Understanding Medicare One Part at A Time, Part 2: Original Medicare Part B
In the last article, we discussed how Part A works and the costs involved in having Original Medicare’s hospital plan. Now, let’s look at Part B, the medical plan of Original Medicare.
Medicare Part B is FREE to no one (except if you are on Medicaid). Everyone has their Part-B premium deducted from their Social Security or Railroad Retirement check or are billed directly if they are not receiving Social Security yet. Let’s look at what Part B costs and your options for payment.
Part B Costs and Payment Options
In 2023, Part B costs $164.90 per month. It is speculated that the Part-B premium will increase to $174.80 per month for 2024, but that has yet to be confirmed.
If you took Social Security at 62 or 65, or were on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) prior to turning 65, then your Part-B premium will be deducted monthly from your check, unless you choose to be billed directly. If you are waiting to receive Social Security at full age, then you will be billed directly.
If you are being billed directly, the first month will be billed separately, then they will bill you quarterly. So, for example, for your birthday month or first month of eligibility, you would be billed $164.90 (in 2023), then you would receive a bill for $494.70 per quarter. However, if you prefer to be billed monthly, you can choose to enroll in Easy Pay.
What Is Easy Pay?
Easy Pay is a program that allows you to choose a monthly bill and how you wish to pay it. You can choose to have it deducted from your checking or savings account, put it on a credit or debit card, or to receive a bill and you can pay it as you wish (check, money order, credit or debit card).
What Are the Costs of Part-B?
Part B has an annual deductible of $226 for 2023. 2024’s deductible has not been published yet as of this writing. Until you’ve spent $226 on any medical services, Medicare will pay nothing.
Once you’ve reached your deductible, Medicare will pay 80% of any bill and you are liable for the remaining 20%. And like Part A, there is no MOOP (maximum-out-of-pocket limit). This includes durable medical equipment and Part-B drugs (which we cover below).
What Does Medicare Part B Cover?
As previously mentioned, Part B is your medical insurance plan. While Medicare Part A covers facilities costs, Part B covers the medical professionals delivering the care.
- Doctors and surgeons
- Nurses and therapists
And like Part A, it also covers care provided at/by:
- Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Palliative Care
- Home Healthcare
However, it does cover other non-medical professional costs, like durable medical equipment and Part-B drugs.
Durable Medical Equipment and Part-B Drugs
Durable Medical Equipment (DME) is the necessary equipment needed in your care. This could include things like:
- Walkers and canes
- Wheelchairs and scooters
- Oxygen tanks, and C-PAP Machines and supplies
- Diabetic supplies
- Medical beds
Part-B drugs, on the other hand, are drugs you cannot buy at a pharmacy. They must be administered by a medical professional. Since they require a medical professional, the key word being medical, it is covered by the medical plan (Part B), hence a Part-B drug. Examples would be:
- Renal dialysis
- An antibiotic on an IV with a pick to the bone
- The isotope you are injected with when taking a nuclear stress test
All this and still no dental, vision or hearing, as Medicare doesn’t cover ancillary services. So, if you stay with Original Medicare, you will need to buy a dental and vision plan separately.
Also, if you stay with Original Medicare, you will need to buy a prescription plan (Part-D Plan or PDP), since CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) does not provide Part D. You will need to choose one from a private company like Humana, Silver Scripts, UnitedHealthcare or another provider.
As we continue on this series, you will come to understand your options better and will be able to decide what is best for you. In the meantime, if you have any questions and can’t wait for the other articles, please feel free to contact us for a NO OBLIGATION FREE CONSULTATION, by clicking on CONTACT US. Also, download your FREE digital Medicare & You 2024 guidebook.
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