What Is Social Security Part B?


Quick Answer

Social Security Part B is the medical insurance coverage portion of the Medicare program, which is administered by the Social Security Administration. Although many people receive Medicare Part A automatically when they become eligible for Social Security benefits, Medicare Part B is an optional program that carries a monthly premium.

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What Is Social Security Part B?
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Full Answer

Medicare Part A is the hospital coverage portion of the program that includes in-patient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, nursing home care, home health services and home hospice care, while Medicare Part B medical coverage includes doctor visits, surgery, lab tests, medically necessary services and durable medical equipment. For those who qualify for Social Security benefits, Medicare Part A is free, but Medicare Part B costs a minimum monthly premium of $104.90 as of 2015. Those with higher personal or household incomes pay higher premiums to a maximum of $335.70 per month. The premium is usually deducted from an enrollee's monthly Social Security payment.

The initial seven-month enrollment period to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B is three months before an individual turns 65, the month of the 65th birthday and three months after the 65th birthday. If a person does not sign up for Medicare Part B when he first becomes eligible, he pays a permanent 10 percent higher premium for every 12 months of delayed enrollment.

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