Medicare Part B

What is Medicare Part B?

Medicare is the United States' health insurance program that helps to cover the cost of healthcare for people age 65 or older. Upon turning 65, U.S. citizens can enroll in Original Medicare, consisting of Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part B is the portion of Medicare that covers medical services from doctors and other care providers, along with certain types of medical equipment and preventive services. 

Unlike Part A, Medicare Part B beneficiaries must pay a monthly premium. The government subsidizes about 75% of this premium for most beneficiaries, but those who report higher incomes will pay larger percentages in proportion to their total earnings. 

Eligible individuals who choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B during the six-month period surrounding their 65th birthday will have an opportunity to sign up again each year following their initial enrollment period. 

What services does Medicare Part B cover?

Medicare Part B covers two types of services and supplies: those that are required to diagnose or treat a beneficiary's medical condition (medically necessary services), and those that can prevent or detect illness at an early stage (preventive services).

Services and supplies covered by Medicare Part B include:

  • Inpatient and outpatient care
  • Mental health services
  • Home health care
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Ambulance services
  • Clinical research
  • Certain prescription drugs

While certain aspects of Medicare coverage vary from state to state, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines ensure Original Medicare (Parts A and B) coverage is uniform across the country.