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What is Part B Coverage of Medicare?
by: Mark Dacanay

Medicare is a social insurance program that is being administered by the US government under the Social Security Act.

It aims to provide medical insurance coverage for people who are aged 65 or older, or those who qualify and meets the special criteria.

To be eligible a person must be either of the following:

• Sixty-five years and older, US citizens or permanent legal resident for at least 5 years, who has paid or have spouses who paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years.

• Disabled, and have been receiving Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board Disability benefits for at least 24 months.

• Getting continuous dialysis treatment for end-stage renal disease or need a kidney transplant.

• Eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The in-patient benefits of Medicare are given automatically to those eligible. This is a premium-free benefit that takes care of all in-patient costs up to a maximum number of days that includes hospital stay in a semi-private room and medication related to the hospitalization.

Part B on the other hand has a monthly premium before it can be taken advantage of. It is meant to help with some of the costs that are not covered in Part A, most specifically outpatient costs.

Medicare is voluntary, but once a person is enrolled, he/she will have to pay the premiums.
In 2009, the premium is $96.40 per month for Part B coverage.

This is normally automatically deducted from their Social Security monthly payments.
Part B coverage includes:

• Coverage of physician and nurses services
• Coverage of X-rays, laboratory and other diagnostics test
• Vaccinations for Pneumonia and Influenza
• Blood transfusions and renal dialysis
• Immunosuppressive drugs for organ recipient patients
• Chemotherapy
• Hormonal Treatments such as Lupron
• Oxygen for home use
• Help in purchasing durable medical equipment (DME) like canes, walkers and wheelchairs. This also includes prosthetics such as artificial limbs.
• One pair of eyeglasses after cataract surgery
• Other outpatient procedures and medical treatments administered in a doctor’s office

How to Avail of Medicare Part B

If you are already receiving Social Security benefits then there is no need to enroll.
You will be automatically enrolled in Part A and B of the Medicare Medical Insurance program on the month of your 65th birthday.

Your Medicare card will be mailed to you 3 months before your birthday. If you do not want to avail of the Part B coverage, then you can follow the instructions in the card.

However, if you are close to 65 and not yet receiving your Social Security Benefits or Medicare, then you can apply for both at the same time.

To make sure that the Part B coverage will not be delayed, you should apply at least three months before your 65th birthday.

To apply, you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or you can just visit your local Social Security Office.

NOTE:   Please call Social Security or check with your local office for any plan changes that may take place since the writing of the article above.





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