For most seniors, enrollment in Medicare Part A is easy, because often times, it is automatic. This leaves you to wonder: how do I enroll in Medicare Part B? Some seniors also meet the qualifications to enroll in Part B automatically, but many aren’t. It is important to learn how to enroll in Medicare Part B because it protects yourself from high, unprotected out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits.
Medicare Part B
Part B covers your doctor visits, check-ups, and any other service that Medicare would consider as an “outpatient” service. If you were to be an inpatient in the hospital, that would be covered under Medicare Part A. Benefits of Part B includes:
- Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
- Ambulance services
- Doctor visits
- Preventative care services
- Partial hospitalization
- Clinical research
Under Medicare policy, Part B covers the above expenses at 80%. You, the beneficiary, would be responsible for the remaining 20%. In the event that you did not enroll in Medicare Part B, you would be responsible for 100% of the costs associated with your services. Depending on the outpatient service, this could amount to hefty fees.
Part B comes with a monthly premium. In 2019, the premium for Medicare Part B is $135.50 per month. In addition to the monthly premium, you will have to meet and pay an annual deductible for Part B. The Part B deductible in 2019 is $185. Your benefits will not kick in until this deductible is paid in full.
When Should I Enroll in Medicare Part B?
Three months before your 65th birthday, you enter your Initial or Open Enrollment Period. Your Open Enrollment Period extends through your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after. This long time period ensures that future beneficiaries have enough time to find and enroll in the coverage that meets their needs.
If you miss your Open Enrollment Period, you might be able to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. For example, if you’re still receiving coverage from a group help plan before, during, or after your 65th birthday, Medicare will not see this as a conflict. You can still enroll in Part B without any late enrollment penalties.
You may not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. If that’s the case, you can enroll in Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period. General Enrollment Period starts on January 1 of each year and ends on March 31. Your coverage would begin on March 31.
Penalties may apply if you enroll in Medicare Part B after your enrollment period and you were not covered by a group health plan. Your premium could increase by 10 percent for each 12-month period you could have enrolled in Part B but did not.
How Do I Enroll in Medicare Part B?
If you’re among the group of people who are automatically enrolled in Part B, you won’t have to take any action. Wait for your Medicare card to arrive in the mail, and then you take advantage of your Part B benefits on your effective date.
Others do not receive automatic enrollment in Part B. Don’t worry if this is you. If you have Medicare Part A, to enroll in Medicare Part B, all you need to do is download and fill out this form. This form (CMS 40B) asks for your Medicare number and other personal information. This is just to confirm your enrollment and your eligibility for Part B. After you fill out this form, take it to your local Social Security office. They will process your application, and once they do, you’ll be notified by mail that you are enrolled in Part B.
If you decide that you don’t want Part B, that’s okay too. You don’t have to sign up for this coverage. We do, however, strongly encourage all seniors to take advantage of this potential benefit. If you happen to need to go to the doctor for any reason and don’t have this coverage, you won’t be protected from high out-of-pocket fees if you don’t have Part B.
Medicare Supplement Plans
Because Part B only covers 80% of services, you might want to get additional coverage to fill that 20% gap. With some Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans, you might not have to pay any money out-of-pocket.
Once you’re enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you’ll be eligible to enroll in a Medicare supplement plan. After, you can call one of our friendly agents at (800) 310-2550 to get started or get your free Medicare supplement quote online.