Medicare Part B covers medical treatment that happens outside of a hospital. Together with Medicare Part A (which helps cover hospital costs for eligible services), Medicare Part B rounds out what many patients and healthcare providers refer to as “Original Medicare.”
In addition to the services listed below, Medicare Part B may also cover the cost of certain outpatient prescription drugs. These include most injectable drugs, medicines used for End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and more.
Medicare Part B covers two types of healthcare services: preventive medicine and medically necessary treatments. If you want any of the following services, you need to enroll in Medicare Part B:
- Medical equipment
- Wellness exams
- Health screenings
- Ambulance services
- Mental health services
- Clinical research services
Keep in mind, however, that these drugs are exceptions. In general, Medicare Part B does not cover most drugs. This means that if you need this type of coverage, then you would simply enroll in Medicare Part D, which is specifically meant to help with the price of prescriptions.
Part B plans may have Medicare premiums, but you won’t have to pay these when you’re using coverage for preventative health services. Also, there are ways to minimize these premiums by signing up early.
The most you’ll have to pay in most cases is a small copay, along with the monthly premium. These are charged when you need to request a medically necessary service, like an emergency ambulance trip.
Signing up for Medicare Part B is easy. In fact, some enrollees get signed up for Original Medicare (Parts A and B) automatically. However, even if you are not eligible for automatic enrollment, you may be able to sign up easily online.
If you do not want to enroll in Medicare Part B, you can simply sign up for Part A and waive your Part B enrollment.
Just keep in mind that unless you meet certain requirements, you may be charged a late fee if you initially waive Medicare Part B and then sign up after your original enrollment period ends.