Need Medicare Part B? If you’re eligible, now is the time to sign up. The general enrollment period for Medicare Part B runs from Jan. 1 through March 31. Before you make a decision about general enrollment, let us fill you in on some general information.
Medicare is a medical insurance program for retired and disabled people. Some people are covered only by one type of Medicare; others opt to pay extra for more coverage. Understanding Medicare can save you money; here are the facts.
There are four parts to Medicare: Parts A, B, C and D. Part A helps pay for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, hospice care and other services. Part B helps pay for doctors' fees, outpatient hospital visits and other medical services and supplies not covered by Part A. Part C allows you to choose to receive all of your health care services through a provider organization. These plans, known as Medicare Advantage Plans, may help lower your costs of receiving medical services, or you may get extra benefits for an additional monthly fee. You must have both Parts A and B to enroll in Part C. And Part D is the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.
Most people first become eligible for Medicare at age 65, and there is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. In 2011, the standard premium is $99.90. Some high-income individuals pay more than the standard premium. Your Part B premium also can be higher if you do not enroll during your initial enrollment period, or when you first become eligible.
Remember: Most people are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B when they become eligible. If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B when you first become eligible to apply and you don’t fit into one of the above categories, you'll have to wait until the general enrollment period, which is Jan. 1 through March 31 of each year. At that time, you may have to pay a higher Medicare Part B premium.
For more information about Medicare Parts A, B, C and D, visit www.medicare.gov. Or read our publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html.