Medicare Part B is an optional Medicare plan that covers outpatient care. For instance, it pays for visits to a doctor’s office, tests, and preventive health care like cancer screenings and vaccines. Part B also covers some medical supplies, like blood sugar test strips, therapeutic shoes, and more.
This coverage is available to three basic groups -- those over age 65 who are getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, the disabled, and those with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or end-stage kidney disease.
For Medicare Part B, you may pay:
- A standard monthly premium of $134. However, if you annual income over $85,000 you will pay $187.50 to $428.60, depending on your income
- A deductible, which is a set amount you pay each year before Part B starts paying for any of your care; for 2015, the deductible for most people is $147.00.
- Twenty percent of the Medicare-approved amount for some types of care; these are doctor's appointments, physical therapy, diabetes supplies, durable medical equipment like commode chairs, wheelchairs, and others. You have to meet your deductible before Medicare begins to cover 80% of your care, leaving you to pay the remaining 20%.
- If you see a doctor who has not signed an agreement to accept Medicare-approved amounts, you may pay more -- possibly up to the full cost -- for a doctor's visit and care.
If you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty every month.