Medicare Part B is the portion of the program that covers doctor visits and related expenses. The services it covers include, but are not limited to, office visits, outpatient surgery and therapy, lab tests and X-rays, preventive care and diagnostic screenings, medical equipment, emergency room visits and some in-home care.
In addition to Medicare Part B, subscribers also receive Part A coverage once eligible for the Medicare program. Part A covers hospital stays, inpatient services and surgery.
Medicare Part B has extremely limited prescription drug coverage. Typically, the only drugs covered by Part B are those administered directly by a physician or nurse. To receive full prescription coverage, a subscriber needs to opt into a Medicare Part D plan. These are plans administered by private companies that pay for prescription drugs, and typically require a monthly premium for coverage.
Subscribers also have the option to replace their coverage with a Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage plan. These are private insurance plans paid for in full or in part by Medicare. These include both hospital and outpatient coverage, and many plans include prescription coverage as well. In many cases, Medicare Advantage plans also offer better copayments or deductibles than standard Medicare coverage, and may result in lower medical costs over time.