Medicare Part B is the section of Medicare that pays for nonhospital medical costs and covers most services provided by a physician. Some services not covered by this section include cosmetic surgery, acupuncture and other alternative therapies, dental work, nonmedical vision exams and hearing aids.
While Medicare Part B covers a wide variety of services and tests, these charges are still subject to the standard deductibles, copayments and coinsurance costs described in the Medicare plan literature. Since Medicare claims are often handled by state agencies, individual coverage may vary from state to state.
Medicare Part B offers very limited drug coverage and usually only pays for prescriptions given as a part of covered outpatient treatment. Medicare Part D is a stand-alone drug coverage plan, and subscribers must select from plans offered by various insurance companies and opt in to receive this coverage. Subscribing to Part D after initial Medicare enrollment may incur a late enrollment penalty.
Medicare Part C coverage, also known as Medicare Advantage, is a supplement to Medicare in which a private company administers the insurance coverage, and the private company is paid in part or in full by Medicare. These plans replace traditional Part B coverage and in some cases may offer better coverage or cost-sharing options. Many Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage as well.