Medicare Part B is not free. You will still need to pay some of the costs associated with health care.
Medicare Part B, also known as outpatient coverage, helps to pay for doctor visits and any other medical supplies. It is something that seniors depend on, and people approaching 65 years old look forward to.
However, it comes with some costs. There are premiums, copays, deductibles and penalties. You can better plan for your healthcare costs if you are aware of what you can expect.
How much Medicare Part B will cost?
The average monthly premium for Medicare Part B is $148.50 per month in 2021. However, this number increases with income. In 2021, beneficiaries with 2019 incomes exceeding $88,000 (individual) or $176,000(joint) will be required to pay a premium amount of $207.90 up to $504.90 depending on their income. For a breakdown, see the table below.
The Part B annual deductible will be $203. This is the amount you will pay before Medicare Part B coverage kicks into effect. The government adjusts the deductible amount every year.
After you meet your deductible amount for the year, you will usually pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount of your bill. Your share of the bill could be higher if your provider charges you more than the Medicare-approved amount.
You will be charged an additional 10% for each 12-month delay if you fail to sign up for Medicare Part B. This extra premium could add up to a substantial amount in retirement.
Medigap can help cover some costs
Original Medicare Part A and Part B enrollees often buy Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap) to cover out-of-pocket expenses. These policies can help with Part B copays and coinsurance but do not cover Part B premiums. Medigap plans that were issued after January 1, 2020 are not permitted to cover the Medicare Part B deductible.
Private insurers offer a variety of Medigap plans with state-regulated premiums. Your premiums may depend on where you live, what coverage you get and how old you are. Medigap plans cannot be used with Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare Advantage is an alternative
More than a third of people who sign up for Medicare choose a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Medicare Part C.
These policies are administered by private insurance companies and must offer the same coverage as Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans can also include prescription drug coverage, as well as other benefits that are not covered in Part A or Part B, like vision and dental coverage.
Medicare Advantage Plans are often a network of providers, which plan members must use. This is in contrast to Original Medicare. MA plans are often cheaper than Original Medicare, and have advertised premiums as low at $0, as well as limits on the amount you’ll pay out-of pocket. In many cases, the Medicare Part B premium will still be required.