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Medicare FAQs - Medicare Part B (medical)

1. What does Medicare Part B cover?
Medicare Part B is medical insurance and helps cover medically-necessary services such as doctors' visits and outpatient care. Part B also covers many preventative services, such as an annual wellness exam, flu shots, mammograms and Pap tests.

2. When can I sign up for Part B?
If you get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will automatically get Part B on the first day of the month you turn age 65. If you are under age 65 and disabled, you will automatically get Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits for 24 months.
 
If you didn't sign up for Part B when you first became eligible, you may be able to sign up during one of these times:
  • General Enrollment Period: From January 1 through March 31 each year
  • Special Enrollment Period: If you waited to sign up for Part B because you or your spouse are working and have group health coverage based on that work or if you are disabled and you or a family member are working and have group health plan coverage based on that work
3. Is there a penalty for not signing up for Part B as soon as I become eligible?
You may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for not signing up for Part B benefits as soon as you became eligible. The premium may go up 10 percent for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B but didn't sign up for it.
 
4. What is the fee for Part B benefits?
The fee for Part B benefits varies according to income. The table below shows the 2015 Part B premiums.           
 
If Your Annual Income is…
You Pay
File Individual Tax Return
File Joint Tax Return
 
$85,000 or below
$170,000 or below
$104.90*
$85,001 - $107,000
$170,001 - $214,000
$146.90*
$107,001 - $160,000
$214,001 - $320,000
$209.80*
$160,001 - $214,000
$320,001 - $428,000
$272.70*
Above $214,000
Above $428,000
$335.70*
 
 
 
5. What is the Special Enrollment Period for International Volunteers?
If you waited to enroll in Part B because you had health insurance while volunteering in a foreign country, you usually do not have to pay a late-enrollment penalty to sign up for Part B during a special enrollment period.