Medicare Part B helps cover medically necessary services and supplies needed for the diagnosis or treatment of your health condition. We talked about many of the services and supplies Medicare Part B covers, but it’s also important to consider the costs along with knowing Part B is an optional service.
You’ll pay both a monthly premium and a yearly deductible for Medicare Part B. The monthly premium amount may vary depending on your specific situation. You’ll generally pay $134 for your Part B premium if you enroll in Part B for the first time in 2018, you aren’t receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you’re billed directly for your Part B premium (meaning it isn’t taken out of your Social Security benefits), you have both Medicare and Medicaid coverage and Medicaid pays for your monthly premiums, or your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your tax return from two years ago is a certain amount. You may have to pay a higher premium if your yearly income is above a certain amount, as reported on your tax return from two years ago and this is known as an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA).
Medicare Part B is optional, but in some ways, it can feel mandatory, because there are penalties associated with delayed enrollment. If you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), then you may incur penalty charges. These penalty charges are indefinite for as long as you keep Medicare Part B. If you’re not automatically enrolled, then you have a seven-month initial period to enroll in Medicare Part B. The seven months include the three months prior to your 65th birthday, the month containing your 65th birthday and the three months that follow your birthday month. If you turn 65 on March 8, then you have from the previous December 1 to June 30 to enroll in Medicare Part B.
If you delay enrollment, then you have to wait until the next general enrollment period begins which would be January of the following year. For Medicare Part B, you have from January 1 through March 31 to enroll. Coverage doesn’t begin until July. Essentially, you’ve missed almost a year and a half’s worth of coverage. Also, you’ll have to pay a penalty of as much as 10 percent above the standard premium for every 12-month period that you didn’t have coverage when you could have. In this case, you would have to pay 10 percent, because you only missed one full year. The longer you wait, the higher the percentage goes. In addition to your monthly premium, you’ll pay $183 for the yearly Part B deductible.
Although Medicare Part A and Part B are great programs that cover a lot of services, but there are some things Medicare does not cover. They include most dental care, eye exams related to prescribing glasses, dentures, acupuncture and hearing aids. Also, to cover the deductibles and coinsurance that Part A and Part B have, you will need to look into some type of supplemental policy sold through private insurance companies. These include Medicare supplement plans or Medicare Advantage Plans. Medicare is not a one-size-fits-all program, because people have different medical needs as they age. When applying for Medicare, you have options about the portions of the program in which you want to enroll. Choosing a policy can be daunting, but conducting your own research ahead of time will help you make a more informed decision about your healthcare.