Medicare Part B Coverage

Medicare Part B coverage is the basic medical insurance part of Medicare. The coverage includes preventive health care, doctor's visits and services (inpatient and outpatient) and outpatient hospital care. Outpatient per service co-pays are limited to the amount of the inpatient deductible (currently $1,132.00).

Part B coverage also includes other essential medical care not covered by Medicare Part A. Services such as clinical laboratory tests, durable medical equipment, Medicare-approved home health services and mental health are included in Part B coverage. Blood is usually covered (if free from the blood bank) but processing and handling fees are not covered.

Auntie Lou says, "I remember Part B as: Better get it to pay the doctor."

Original Medicare Part B coverage includes co-pays and a yearly standard deductible of $162.00. Part B coverage requires an additional monthly premium that is deducted from your social security check. The standard 2011 Original Medicare Part B premium is $115.40. The premium amount is based upon your modified gross adjusted income from the IRS tax return you filed for 2009. Part B monthly premiums can cost as much as $369.10 per month depending on your income. Premium increases occur almost every year. For 2011 the increase on the standard premium was 4.4%. After the deductible is met in part B you will be responsible for paying 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. These costs are often offset by your retiree health plan or a supplemental insurance policy

Medicare Advantage Plans also include Part A and Part B. The Part B co-payments, deductibles and premiums vary for each plan and they can be more or less than Original Medicare. Advantage Plans also known as Part C are run by private insurance companies and typically resemble a PPO or a HMO.

In summary, Medicare Part B coordinates with Part A to cover the most expensive parts of health care. Original Medicare and most Medicare Advantage Plans will require monthly premiums for Part B. These premiums are based upon your adjusted gross income from the tax return you filed two years ago. Part B coverage is important because it covers doctor's bills and outpatient services.