Who Qualifies for Medicare Part B?


Quick Answer

Anyone who qualifies for Medicare Part A hospital coverage automatically qualifies for Part B medical coverage as well, although Part B is optional because it carries a monthly premium. Those eligible must be U.S. citizens or resident aliens and age 65 or over, be disabled or have end-stage renal disease.

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Full Answer

People enrolled automatically in Medicare Parts A and B include people who are 65 and over and currently receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, are disabled and under 65 years old, or have Lou Gehrig's disease. People have to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B if they are still working and not enrolled in Social Security or if they have end-stage renal disease. Medicare Part A is free to people who have sufficient employment quarters of coverage to qualify for Social Security benefits, but although people with insufficient quarters of coverage must pay for Part A, they can opt to purchase only Medicare Part B.

The initial enrollment period for Medicare Part B coverage includes three months before a person's 65th birthday, the month of the birthday and three months afterward. If individuals do not sign up when they first become eligible, the premiums become 10 percent higher for every 12 months that they delay enrollment. After the initial enrollment period, there are general enrollment periods every year between Jan. 1 and March 31.

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