Medicare Part B: Medicare Insurance

Medicare Part B insurance helps pay for a variety of medically necessary care — that is, care for an illness or medical condition. This includes services like doctor’s office visits, care in hospitals and clinics when you are not admitted for an inpatient stay, laboratory tests and some diagnostic screenings, and some skilled nursing care at home, if you’re homebound.

Part B also covers most doctor services you receive as a hospital inpatient, although other hospital services are covered by Part A. Part B is voluntary, but most people sign up when they first become eligible. Medicare Part B is making it easier to get preventive care. It now covers an annual wellness exam plus additional preventive screenings at no cost to you.

Services Covered

  • Doctor’s visits (Including an annual wellness exam)
  • Ambulatory surgery center services
  • Outpatient medical services
  • Some preventive care, like flu shots and pneumonia shots
  • Clinical laboratory services (blood tests, urinalysis, etc.)
  • X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, EKGs and some other diagnostic tests
  • Some diagnostic screenings, like colorectal and prostate cancer screenings and mammograms
  • Durable medical equipment for use at home (oxygen, wheelchairs, walkers, etc.)
  • Emergency room services
  • Skilled nursing care and health aide services for the homebound on a part-time or intermittent basis
  • Mental health care as an outpatient
  • A few prescription drugs administered by a doctor, like chemotherapy drugs

Services Not Covered

Part B focuses on helping you pay the costs of medically necessary care when you’re sick. Only in very limited situations does it cover any care for your eyes, teeth or hearing.

Part B does not cover medical care you receive outside the United States, except in a few very limited situations.

Part B also doesn’t cover the cost of help with the activities of daily life, like eating, bathing, or getting dressed.

Limits

As a general rule, Part B doesn’t limit the number of Part B services you can receive, as long as your care is medically necessary to treat an illness or condition. However, there are limits on a few services.

For example, there are limits on the amount Part B will pay in a single year for occupational therapy and speech therapy. Some preventive care and screenings are only covered at specific intervals, like once a year for a flu shot. Part B offers the same benefits throughout the United States. You are not limited to a particular state or region for your care.

Providers

You can choose any qualified provider in the United States who has been accepted by Medicare and who is accepting new patients. Because Part B offers the same benefits throughout the United States, you are not limited to a particular state or region for your care.

Information

Guide to Original Medicare (Part A & Part B) Find out more about Original Medicare. What’s the difference between Part A and Part B?