At times, the process of applying for Medicare can be stressful. We understand. Thankfully, most seniors are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A when they turn 65. This is because many people meet the automatic enrollment requirements to receive Part A automatically and for free. While some are also automatically enrolled in Part B at the same time as their Part A, many are not. Below, we outline the necessary steps to enroll yourself in Medicare Part B and protect yourself from the out-of-pocket costs of doctor visits.
What Is Medicare Part B?
Medicare Part B is the part of Medicare that covers your outpatient medical expenses. This includes any and all doctor visits in which you do not have to become a hospital inpatient. More Part B benefits include:
- Partial hospitalization
- Clinical research
- Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
- Ambulance services
- Preventative care
Medicare often covers these expenses at 80%, leaving the beneficiary responsible for the remaining 20% of the costs. Without Part B, you would be responsible for 100% of the costs, leaving you susceptible to hefty out-of-pocket fees.
To receive the benefits of Part B, you have to pay a monthly premium. The premium for Part B in 2019 is $135.50. Additionally, you will have to pay an annual deductible of $185 before your benefits kick in.
When to Enroll in Medicare Part B
Each senior enters their Initial Enrollment Period 3 months before they turn 65. This period lasts through their 65th birthday and extends 3 months after. This ensures that future beneficiaries have plenty of time to enroll in the coverage that fits their needs.
If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, there may be special circumstances in which you’re able to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Some exceptions that qualify individuals for a Special Enrollment Period include being covered by a group health plan during or after your 65th birthday. Medicare will allow you to still enroll in Part B without incurring any penalties.
In the event that you do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period. This period runs from January 1 to March 31, with coverage starting on July 1.
If you are not covered by a group health plan, you might be exposed to penalties. Your premium might go up by 10 percent for each 12-month period that you were eligible for Part B but didn’t sign up. This proves that it’s imperative to sign up for Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period.
How to Enroll in Medicare Part B
Some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B. If this is the case for you, no action is needed on your part. Simply wait for your Medicare card to come in the mail, and begin taking advantage of your Part B benefits upon your effective date.
However, some people do not receive automatic enrollment in Part B. If you are among this group, don’t worry. Enrolling in Medicare Part B is simple and easy. If you already have Part A, to enroll in Part B, download and fill out this form. This CMS 40B form requests your Medicare number and some additional personal information and confirms that you are interested in enrolling in Part B. Once you fill this out, deliver it to your local Social Security office. There, they can process your application. Once your application is processed, you will receive notification by mail if you are successfully enrolled in Part B.
Some seniors decide that they don’t want Part B. If this is the case for you, that’s okay. You are not required to sign up for this additional coverage, however, it is highly recommended. You never know when you might need to go to the doctor, and having Part B protects you from high out-of-pocket costs.
Enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan
As mentioned, Part B only covers 80% of the expenses associated with your medical needs. This still leaves beneficiaries exposed to 20% of these costs. While this is a significantly less number than the total cost, depending on how often you visit the doctor, the costs may add up. For this, we recommend enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan. Some Medicare Supplement plans will cover the remaining 20% at full cost, meaning you won’t be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs.
Nothing on this website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.