To continue our theme of learning more about Medicare, let’s turn our focus to Part B. Like our discussion on Medicare Part A, I’ll break down Part B into three main areas:
- What is the Medicare Part B coverage?
- How much does Medicare Part B cost?
- When should I sign up for Medicare Part B?
Let’s dive in.
Medicare Part B essentially covers such things as preventative services, clinical research, ambulance services, some medical equipment, mental health services. Those are basically wordy ways to say things like: participation in clinical studies for new prescription drugs, necessary medical devices, necessary medical supplies, (such as diabetes testing supplies, oxygen tanks, lifts and walkers) both inpatient and outpatient mental health services. It will also cover things like x-rays, laboratory tests. As well as most medically necessary doctor services.
This article is not a complete list of things Part B will cover nor is it a declaration or guarantee of coverage.
The Official Site of Medicare has a wonderful search tool that can tell you exactly what is covered and what is not. I would highly suggest using that tool to gain a better understanding of what services and devices Medicare covers.
Now, let’s take a look at how much Medicare Part B costs.
In 2018, Medicare Part B’s monthly premium begins at $134.00/month and goes up depending on your level of income. Part B’s monthly premium can reach as high as $428.60/month if your income reaches a certain point as illustrated by the chart below:
|If your yearly income in 2016 (for what you pay in 2018) was||You pay each month (in 2018)|
|File individual tax return||File joint tax return||File married & separate tax return|
|$85,000 or less||$170,000 or less||$85,000 or less||$134|
|above $85,000 up to $107,000||above $170,000 up to $214,000||Not applicable||$187.50|
|above $107,000 up to $133,500||above $214,000 up to $267,000||Not applicable||$267.90|
|above $133,500 up to $160,000||above $267,000 up to $320,000||Not applicable||$348.30|
|above $160,000||above $320,000||above $85,000||$428.60|
Chart is for illustrative purposes only. Please consult an approved Medicare professional or Medicare directly regarding your specific circumstances.
You may pay a little less if you’re currently receiving Social Security benefits.
Here’s a financial planning tip for you to keep in mind. Medicare, generally, has a two year “look-back” in regard to income. If you decide to enroll in Medicare Part B in 2018, for example, Medicare will look back to your 2016 tax filing, as referenced in the chart above. If you have an abnormal tax year in 2016 (sold a business, sold a piece of property) and your income was much higher than it normally is, it can have an impact on how much you pay for Medicare in 2018 and 2019. My point is to be aware of the Medicare two year lookback and how it may impact your Medicare Part B costs.
When should you sign up for Medicare Part B? Good question!
Essentially there are two ways you will get signed up for Medicare Part B:
- Automatically or
However, if you are not receiving Social Security Benefits when you turn age 65, you will most likely need to sign up for Medicare Part B manually. If you live in Puerto Rico, for example, (even if you’re receiving Social Security) you will probably have to sign up for Medicare Part B manually. If you have end-stage renal disease, you will generally be required to sign up manually as well.
If you need to sign up manually you are basically given a handful of choices:
- During the Initial Enrollment Period. Typically, it starts three months before you turn 65, includes your birth month, then extends another three months after your 65th That’s a total of 7 months to get signed up. No excuses people.
- The General Enrollment Period. Customarily runs January 1st – March 31st each year.
- The Special Enrollment Period. This period of time consists of the eight months following the month the employer or union group health plan coverage ends, or when your employment ends (whichever comes first). This election is only an option while you’re still covered by your employer or union group health plan.
- Annual open enrollment. Generally, from October 15th – December 7th. This usually coincides with the “open enrollment” we’re all pretty familiar with.
Medicare Part B isn’t really all that complicated, but you can sure complicate the crap out of it if you’re so inclined. No doubt. If you have questions about anything regarding Medicare Part B don’t hesitate to reach out folks. I won’t charge you anything to sit down and go over your situation, or chat on the phone about it. Medicare is a big deal, don’t go it alone unless you’re 100% certain you know what you’re doing.
Okay. That’s it. I’m done.
Information is deemed to be from reliable sources. Nothing in this blog post should be considered advice regarding Medicare coverage of any kind. Please consult a Medicare representative for any advice or questions in regard to coverage and/or price.