Do I Need Medicare Part B?

Updated on: August 27th, 2020

Reviewed by Diane Omdahl

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If you’re eligible for Medicare and curious as to what coverage best meets your individual financial and health needs, you’re not alone. And, this can be confusing, especially since there are four parts to Medicare. 

What Are the Four Parts of Medicare?

  • Medicare Part A is hospital insurance.
  • Medicare Part B is medical insurance.
  • Medicare Part C is Medicare Advantage.
  • Medicare Part D offers prescription drug coverage.

You know Part A is important because it covers hospital stays and Part D helps pay for drugs. You also probably know that Part C is an all-one-Medicare package that can provide medical and drug insurance. But what about Part B? Why would you need it? 

When Would You Need Medicare Part B?

Medicare Part B provides comprehensive outpatient coverage to diagnose and treat a medical condition. Medicare Part B covers everything from doctors’ visits to medical emergencies, along with preventive services.

What Does Medicare Part B Cover?

Part B services include:

  • Doctors’ visits.
  • Diagnostic studies and blood tests.
  • X-rays and MRIs.
  • Ambulance service.
  • Mental health services. 
  • Durable medical equipment, such as walkers, wheelchairs, blood sugar monitors and more.
  • Clinical research.
  • Certain immunizations including seasonal flu shots and a pneumonia vaccine.
  • Annual wellness exams.
  • Preventive screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

What Does Medicare Part B Not Cover?

Some of the services that aren’t covered by Medicare Part B include: 

  • Rroutine dental and vision care. 
  • Hearing aids.
  • Routine foot care.
  • Cosmetic surgery.

How Much Does Medicare Part B Cost?

For 2020, the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B is $144.60. If you’re on Social Security, the premium will be deducted from your monthly benefit payment. If you are considered a higher-income beneficiary, you will pay more for Part B. 

Part B has out-of-pocket costs. The annual deductible in 2020 is $198. Once you meet the deductible, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved cost of the medical treatment or health service, if you see doctors who accept Medicare.

What Can You Do to Control the Costs?

Being responsible for 20% of all Part B charges can add up quickly. There are two ways that you can control your costs. 

Enroll in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plan

Many people choose to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as a Medigap policy, to help pay the costs that Medicare Part A and Part B don’t cover. These plans have monthly premiums. Any plan will pay the 20% coinsurance. Some will cover the deductible and many also provide coverage when you travel internationally.

Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan

Offered by private companies, Medicare Advantage plans, often called Part C, provide Part A and Part B benefits. These plans have lower premiums and a limit on out-of-pocket expenses. Prices will vary by plan and some will provide out-of-network coverage. 


Part B, medical insurance, is a very important piece of Medicare coverage. It will cover your doctors, outpatient care, and important preventive services. Enroll when first eligible to make sure you have the coverage you need. 

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