The Medicare Part B premium is a monthly fee that Medicare beneficiaries pay if they choose to enroll in it to supplement the services available to most seniors for free with Medicare Part A.
- Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It is available primarily to U.S. citizens and permanent residents age 65 and older. Most pay no premium for it.
- Medicare Part B covers other medically necessary services and preventative care like doctor's services, lab tests, and outpatient care. Most pay a flat monthly premium for it, which is adjusted annually.
There is a Medicare Part C. More commonly called Medicare Advantage, it is for people who choose to enroll with a private health insurer to get Medicare services plus any additional benefits they choose to pay for.
There is also a Medicare Part D, which covers prescription costs. It is available from insurance companies that are approved to offer it.
- Medicare Part B covers ambulance services, doctor visits, lab tests, and certain medical equipment.
- In contrast to Part A, which is available to most seniors at no cost, those who sign up for Part B pay a monthly premium.
- Part B also has an annual deductible and coinsurance of 20%.
- Open enrollment for Medicare begins three months before the month of an individual's 65th birthday and continues for three months afterward.
The standard Medicare Part B premium is $148.50 per person in 2021 and $170.10 in 2022. Higher-income recipients pay more based on their tax returns.
What Is the Medicare Part B Premium?
Medicare is a U.S. federal health insurance program that is funded by a wage tax. That is the amount labeled as FICA, for Federal Insurance Contributions Tax, on a standard paycheck.
Medicare Part A, which is free to most of those who are eligible for coverage, covers hospital-related costs as well as costs for treatment at skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and home health care.
There is an annual deductible for Part A. You'll pay a maximum of $1,484 out of pocket in 2021 and $1,556 in 2022. There is no coinsurance payment unless a hospital stay exceeds 60 days.
Part B is insurance for outpatient medical care such as doctor visits, preventative services, ambulance services, mental health costs, and the cost of durable medical equipment.
The standard monthly fee for Part B is $148.50 in 2021 and $170.10 in 2022. It is higher for Medicare recipients who have higher incomes.
The annual deductible for Part B is $233 for 2021 and $233 in 2022. In addition, the patient pays 20% of the bill as a coinsurance payment.
|Medicare Part B Costs for 2022|
|Individuals||Married Filing Jointly||Married Filing Separately||Monthly Fee for 2022|
|$91,000 or less||$182,000 or less||$91,000 or less||$170.10|
|Above $91,000 up to $114,000||Above $182,000 up to $228,000||N/A||$238.10|
|Above $114,000 up to $142,000||Above $228,000 up to $284,000||N/A||$340.20|
|Above $142,000 up to $170,000||Above $284,000 up to $340,000||N/A||$442.30|
|Above $170,000 and less than $500,000||Above $340,000 and less than $750,000||Above $91,000 and less than $409,000||$544.30|
|$500,000 and above||$750,000 and above||$409,000 and above||$578.30|
Eligibility for Medicare Part B
In general, Medicare is available to U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents who:
- Are age 65 or older
- Are under age 65 and have a disability
- Have end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
- Have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's disease.
When you are first eligible for Medicare, you have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. If you're eligible when you turn 65, you can sign up during the seven-month period that:
- Starts three months before the month you turn 65
- Includes the month you turn 65
- Ends three months after the month you turn 65
If you don't sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you could be stuck paying a late enrollment penalty of 10% for each 12-month period when you could have had Part B but didn't enroll.
However, you may choose to delay enrolling in Part B if you already have health coverage. Check Medicare's website to find out more.
Medicare Part C
Medicare Part C—also called Medicare Advantage—is offered by private companies approved by Medicare.
If you choose to participate in a Medicare Advantage Plan, the plan provides all of your Part A and Part B coverage, and it may provide extra coverage for things like vision, hearing, and dental.
Unlike some private health insurance plans, most Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare Part D (prescription drug) coverage.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage is an optional benefit offered to anyone who has Medicare. If you choose not to get Medicare Part D coverage when you're first eligible, you may owe a late enrollment penalty if you join later, unless you have had other creditable prescription drug coverage, such as that which your employer or spouse's employer may provide.
The CARES Act of 2020
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law a $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package called the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. It expands Medicare's ability to cover treatment and services for those affected by COVID-19. The CARES Act also:
- Increases flexibility for Medicare to cover telehealth services.
- Authorizes Medicare certification for home health services by physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse specialists.
- Increases Medicare payments for COVID-19–related hospital stays and durable medical equipment.
For Medicaid, the CARES Act clarifies that non-expansion states can use the Medicaid program to cover COVID-19–related services for uninsured adults who would have qualified for Medicaid if the state had chosen to expand. Other populations with limited Medicaid coverage are also eligible for coverage under this state option.
How Much Does Medicare Part B Cost?
The standard cost for Medicare Part B is $170.10 per month for an individual in 2022. Individuals who earn above $91,000 (or twice that for married couples) pay more. The sliding scale goes from $238.10 per month to $578.30. The average annual deductible cost for Medicare Part B coverage will be $233 in 2022. The monthly cost of Medicare Part B depends on your income reported two years ago, and is adjusted based on tax filing status.
Do I Need Medicare Part B?
For many people, Medicare Part B is worth the extra cost. It offers coverage for ambulance services, routine (and non-routine) doctor visits, lab tests, and medical equipment.
If not covered by insurance, these costs could add up to a giant bill if you have a health problem or an injury.
What Are the 4 Parts of Medicare?
The four parts of Medicare include the following:
- Part A is insurance for the costs of hospitalization and hospital treatment. Most eligible seniors get this for free.
- Part B is optional and covers medically necessary outpatient services and care. This has a monthly premium of $170.10 for most individuals as of 2022.
- Part C is also called a Medicare Advantage Plan. This is for people who want a private insurance company to administer all of their Medicare services. You can choose your own provider, and you have the option to pay for services above and beyond Medicare coverage.
- Part D is optional coverage for prescription medicine and is available from private insurance companies. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) you can add Part D coverage to it. Or, you can buy it separately.
The Medicare site has a search function to help people find a Part C or a Part D plan.
The Bottom Line
Medicare Part B covers ambulance services, doctor visits, lab tests, and certain medical equipment. In contrast to Part A, which is available to most seniors at no cost, those who sign up for Part B pay a monthly premium. Part B also has an annual deductible and coinsurance of 20%.
Open enrollment for Medicare begins three months before the month of an individual's 65th birthday and continues for three months afterward. It's important to enroll within this timeframe, or you may miss out on Medicare, or it may become much more expensive.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Enrolling in Medicare Part A & Part B," Pages 5-10.
Medicare.gov. "Medicare Costs at a Glance."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "What Part A Covers."
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Who Is Eligible for Medicare?"
Medicare.gov. "Part A & Part B Sign Up Periods."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Part B Late Enrollment Penalty."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Should I Get Parts A & B?"
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "What Is Medicare Part C?"
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "How to Get Prescription Drug Coverage."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers," Pages 1, 21-28, and 43.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Part B Costs."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "What Part B Covers."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) Eligibility and Enrollment."
Medicare.gov. "Find a Medicare Plan."
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