Understanding the second portion of Medicare, Medicare Part B, is essential before you can decide whether to opt out of it or not. But, is Medicare Part B mandatory at age 65? Medicare Part B is not mandatory, but delayed enrollment can lead to penalties. This is all the more reason why you should make a clear decision whether you want to enroll for Medicare Part B or not before you turn 65 years old. With that said, let’s look at what is covered in Medicare Part B.

What Does Medicare Part B Cover?

The medical services covered by Medicare Part B fall into two categories: preventive services and medically necessary services.

Medically necessary services are those offered to people with a recognized medical condition that requires ongoing medical treatment. This may include the charges incurred on doctor visits, lab tests, surgical procedures, diagnostic tools, and medical supplies such as wheelchairs and walkers.

Preventive services included in the Medicare Part B coverage include annual screenings for specific cancers, the flu, or other illnesses. Part B also covers clinical research, mental health counseling, and ambulance services as well as the cost of certain prescription drugs used for outpatient treatment since they fall under preventive services. As of 2019, medical services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and speech-language pathology were also included for coverage under Medicare Part B. These services are only available at Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers.

Supplemental insurance coverage can also be obtained. Supplemental coverage such as Medigap can provide additional coverage for services such as eye examinations, hearing aids, routine foot care, acupuncture, cosmetic enhancements, and custodial care.

Since everyone requires different medical services as they age, Medicare is not tailored to suit everyone. For that reason, you will be presented with options about which services you want coverage for. Some people meet the criteria to be enrolled in both Part A and Part B automatically, but these people can choose to opt out of Medicare Part B if it suits them. It is necessary to perform due diligence before choosing a healthcare package that’s best suited to your health status.

Enrolling for Medicare Part B

If you are eligible for Medicare Part A, the chances are you will also be eligible for Part B. Enrolment comes automatically if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You have not reached 65, but have a disability
  • You suffer from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • You are receiving retirement benefits from either Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)
  • You receive benefits from either Social Security or the RRB and live in Puerto Rico

Bottom Line

As we mentioned earlier, Medicare Part B is not mandatory, but if you don’t opt out of it, you will have to pay the monthly premium it comes with. Signing up for Medicare Part B should ideally be done three months before you turn 65 at the Social Security Administration website.

If you don’t opt out of Medicare Part B and are not qualified to receive a Special Enrolment period, you may be charged with penalties for an indefinite period for as long as you don’t opt out of Part B. Not only will you pay approximately ten percent more than the usual premium, but you may also miss out on coverage for a year or more.

So, is Medicare Part B mandatory at age 65? Medicare Part B is not mandatory, but you have to opt out of it to avoid incurring penalties. If you find yourself having additional questions and are curious about other things related to Medicare, consider reaching out to professionals to access all of the information you’ll need.

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