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  • Last modified 26 days ago (Oct. 17, 2018)

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Medicare part B isn't free

Staff writer

While visiting with a daughter over the weekend, I found that she was surprised to learn that Medicare isn’t always a free medical service.

She thought that after a person reaches 65 and enrolls in Medicare, all medical services are free. It’s true that Medicare Part A hospital insurance is free. It covers inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility, hospice, lab tests, surgery, and home health care.

Part B requires a premium. It covers doctor and other health care providers’ services and outpatient care. Part B also covers durable medical equipment, home health care, and some preventive services.

If a person is enrolled in Part B, a medical insurance premium comes out of each monthly Social Security amount he or she receives. In addition to paying premiums for Part B, beneficiaries pay 20 percent of the cost for services. Medicare pays 80 percent, but that doesn’t apply until a deductible is reached.

A supplemental insurance policy can be purchased that will cover the 20 percent. High-income enrollees pay a higher premium for Part B.

Low-income beneficiaries who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid generally have their premiums paid by state Medicaid agencies. Medicaid pays the standard premium on behalf of the qualifying beneficiary.

Because of an increased cost of living, Social Security recipients will get a 2.8 percent increase in payments in 2019. Some of that is likely to go toward a higher Part B premium.

Last modified Oct. 17, 2018

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