What does Medicare Part B Cover?
Written by: Aaron Garcia
Reviewed by: Malinda Cannon, Licensed Insurance Agent
Medicare Part B provides the medical insurance portion of Original Medicare (Parts A and B) .
For Part B to cover your service or treatment, it must be either medically necessary or preventive.
Medicare Part B generally covers 80% of medically necessary services. You’ll pay the leftover 20%, or coinsurance .
Part B coverage can also include benefits such as telehealth appointments, durable medical equipment and transportation in an ambulance.
Have you ever asked the question, “What does Medicare Part B cover?” If so, you know the answer can be complicated. Different types of treatments are covered at different levels, and sometimes not at all. But don’t let that confusion distract from the main message: Medicare Part B coverage includes some incredible benefits. Here’s what you need to know:
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What Exactly Does Medicare Part B Cover?
Medicare Part B covers a long list of treatments, services and equipment. These can include everything from cancer screenings and treatments to motorized scooters. But for Part B to help cover what you need, your treatment of service must be one of the following:
These include treatments and services that are needed to diagnose or treat a health condition. Your doctor must certify they’re necessary.
Aimed at preventing illnesses, these covered services aim to find health conditions early on to improve patient outcomes. These include screenings and immunizations.
Medicare Part B also covers some things you might not think of as traditional medical treatments. If your doctor determines the following are medically necessary, your Part B benefits can include:
- Doctor Services: Part B helps cover routine visits with your doctor, including check-ups and visits for referrals. Remember, visits for preventive care are often no-cost.
- Durable medical equipment: Medicare will cover a range of at-home equipment if your doctor certifies you need it. This can include wheelchairs, CPAP machines, blood sugar monitors, and more. Your durable medical equipment must be prescribed by a doctor and obtained through a Medicare-approved supplier.
- Outpatient therapies: Part B may cover mental health therapy and physical therapy when performed in outpatient or home settings. If your treatment requires inpatient care, it may be covered by Part A.
- Limited chiropractic care: If you suffer from a subluxation of the spine, Part B may cover treatments by a chiropractor. If your chiropractor orders additional testing such as X-rays, verify they will be covered by Part B. Also, Part B will not cover routine chiropractic care.
- Ambulance services: Medicare Part B coverage includes trips in an ambulance to a hospital or other medical facility. For Part B to apply, transportation in a regular vehicle must endanger your health.
- Telehealth & telemedicine: If you have a two-way video device and your doctor allows e-visits, Part B may cover a remote doctor visit. Call your doctor for a list of services they can provide during a telehealth visit.
To find out if a service or benefit is covered, ask your doctor. They’ll be able to discuss your needs and determine what Medicare Part B will cover for you.
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What Services Does Medicare Part B Not Cover?
Medicare Part B offers a wide range of medical services, [i] but it doesn’t cover everything. If there’s a service or treatment you’d like to receive, but Medicare or your doctor don’t consider it medically necessary, you may have to pay for it yourself.
Some of the services Medicare will not cover may be obvious. Others, though, may come as a surprise, and you’ll want to know if your needs are covered before selecting a plan. Here’s a quick list of some of the things Medicare Part B coverage doesn’t include:
- Cosmetic surgery
- Routine dental care
- Long-term care, also known as custodial care
- Hearing aids
Does Medicare Part B Cover 100 percent?
Yes and no. When it comes to preventive services such as screenings and the flu shot, Medicare Part B will cover 100% of your portion. That means you won’t have to pay a copayment or coinsurance, and the visit won’t count toward your Part B deductible.
If you receive medically necessary care, Medicare will generally cover 80% of your costs after you’ve paid your Part B deductible. You’ll be responsible for paying the remaining 20%. This is known as coinsurance. Medicare pays this portion for most of the Part B benefits that are covered, including durable medical equipment, ambulance transportation and doctor services.
While Part B doesn’t pay 100% of your medically necessary services, there are options to help with your costs. Medicare Supplemental Insurance, or Medigap, is a set of policies that help cover out-of-pocket costs from Medicare. Some Medigap plans will cover Part B costs like your deductible and coinsurance. If you have a limited income and resources, you may also qualify for financial assistance from a Medicare Savings Program.
What extra benefits and savings do you qualify for?
Does Medicare Part B Cover Doctor Visits?
Yes, Medicare Part B coverage typically includes doctor visits to treat or prevent health conditions. These fall in one of two categories: Medically necessary or preventive. If your visit is solely for a preventive service, you generally won’t have to pay a copay or coinsurance when you’re done. If your stay is medically necessary, Medicare will pay for 80% of your costs once your deductible is paid. After that, you’ll pay 20% of the Medicare-approved costs for all services you receive.
Other Parts of Medicare may come into play during your visit. If you visit your doctor and are then admitted into a hospital, Part A may cover your facility-based costs. Suppose your doctor gives you certain vaccines, such as a Shingles vaccine. In that case, they may be covered by Medicare Part D. If you have questions about which Parts of Medicare apply to your services, check out our Medicare Coverages & Benefits guide, or ask your doctor for an explanation.
Medicare Part B Costs & Enrollment
You’ve now answered the question, “What does Medicare Part B cover?” Getting that coverage to work for you, though, means you’ll need to understand some other key aspects of Medicare Part B. Medicare Part B has its own costs, and enrollment can vary from the other parts of Medicare. In other words, there’s more to cover than just Medicare Part B coverage.
What Does Medicare Part B Cost?
Medicare Part B covers most of your medical needs, and there are several different costs you will want to know about when you receive service. People often point to the monthly payment, or premium, as the cost of Medicare Part B. Instead, make sure to budget for coinsurance, deductibles, and more.
How to Enroll in Medicare Part B?
The easy answer? Your first chance to enroll is a seven-month period around the day you turn 65. But that’s just the first of several opportunities you may have to enroll in Medicare Part B. There are several details to consider, including whether you’re still working and the size of your employer. Make sure you understand your decision — not enrolling when you’re first eligible can leave you paying monthly enrollment penalties for as long as you have Part B.
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