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Medicare Part B

What is Medicare Part B?

Original Medicare is made up of two parts: Medicare Part A (inpatient) and Medicare Part B (outpatient).

Medicare Part B or “medical insurance” covers medically necessary outpatient expenses, including physician and nursing fees, as well as a range of services (such as x-rays, diagnostic tests, some vaccinations and renal dialysis) and some equipment.

Find out how to enroll and what Medicare Part B costs. Although most seniors receive Medicare Part A for free, Medicare Part B has a monthly premium, which can fluctuate from year to year. In most cases, the Part B premium is simply withdrawn from your Social Security check.

Part B also has a deductible, which also changes annually. It’s $203 in 2021, and projected to increase to $217 in 2022. The deductible only has to be paid once per year. After that, beneficiaires pay 20% of the Medicare-approved cost of services that are covered by Part B. But many Original Medicare beneficiaries have supplemental coverage — under Medigap, Medicaid, or an employer-sponsored plan — that pays some or all of the out-of-pocket costs under Part B.

Medicare beneficiaries can choose to get their coverage under Original Medicare (ie, directly from the government) or under Medicare Advantage (ie, from a private insurance company). In both cases, beneficiaries pay the premium for Part B, but a Medicare Advantage plan can have a different benefits structure, meaning that out-of-pocket costs won’t be the same as they are under Original Medicare.

Read: Four ways to save money on your Medicare Part B premiums.

Read more about Medicare Part B