Medicare Part B – Overview, Enrollment, & Premiums

Medicare Part B is the medical part of Medicare coverage. It includes coverage for doctor visits and outpatient care, physical and occupational therapists’ services, and some home health care that is not covered by Part A. It also covers some preventive services and screenings that are important for maintaining your health and keeping certain illnesses from getting worse.

Enrollment

Enrollment in Part B is usually automatic if you get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). It will start the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, your Part B will start the first day of the prior month.

If you’re under 65, permanently disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically qualify for Medicare Part B after your 24th month on Social Security.

 If you don’t want Part B, you must follow the instructions that come with the card, and send the card back. If you keep the card, then you keep Part B, and your Part B premiums will be automatically deducted from your Social Security checks.

According to Medicare.gov’s tip sheet, if you didn’t sign up for Part B when you first became eligible, during the initial enrollment period, you may be able to sign up during a later time. The initial enrollment period for most individuals begins at 65. If you’re eligible when you turn 65, you can sign up during the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.

If you didn’t sign up for Part B during your initial enrollment period, you can sign up between January 1 and March 31 of each year. If you do this, then your coverage will begin on July 1, however, there are penalties for late enrollment. If you sign up for Part B after the initial enrollment period, then you will pay an additional 10% more for each full 12-month year that you could have had Part B, but didn’t elect to do so. For instance, if you sign up for Part B two years after you turned 65, then you could be paying an additional 20% each month for your premium. You may also have to pay this additional penalty as long as you have Part B.

Premiums

The standard monthly premium for Part B is $115.40 in 2011. The amount can be higher if your adjusted gross income is above Medicare’s standard income limits, and these amounts can change each year.

Sources used in this article:

http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11219.pdf

https://www.cms.gov/MedicareGenInfo/

http://www.medicare.org/medicare-basics/part-b.html

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