Medicare Part B is part of Original Medicare. Medicare Part B covers outpatient medical services such as doctor visits and preventive care like flu shots and diabetes screenings. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospitalization services.
Some medical care services are not covered by either Medicare Part B or Part A. Dentures and dental care, vision care, long-term care, hearing aids, and routine foot care are not typically covered by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).
In 2019, the Medicare Part B premium is $135.50. This premium must be paid monthly. Individuals making higher incomes have to pay more for Medicare Part B. That means that the wealthiest senior couples will be paying over $11,000 a year in Medicare Part B premiums. Part B (the base and the surcharge) covers doctors’ and outpatient services.
The average Social Security benefit for a retired worker will rise by $39 a month to $1,461 in 2019. The small increase in Part B premiums mean most retirees will get the benefit of the Social Security COLA (Part B premiums are deducted from monthly Social Security checks).
|If your yearly income in 2017 (for what you pay in 2019) was||You pay each month (in 2019)|
|File individual tax return||File joint tax return||File married & separate tax return|
|$85,000 or less||$170,000 or less||$85,000 or less||$135.50|
|Above $85,000 up to $107,000||above $170,000 up to $214,000||Not applicable||$189.60|
|Above $107,000 up to $133,500||above $214,000 up to $267,000||Not applicable||$270.90|
|Above $133,500 up to $160,000||above $267,000 up to $320,000||Not applicable||$352.20|
|Above $160,000 and less than $500,000||above $320,000 and less than $750,000||above $85,000 and less than $415,000||$433.40|
|$500,000 or above||$750,000 and above||$415,000 and above||$460.50|
While most Medicare recipients will pay the new $135.50 standard monthly premium, an estimated 2 million (3.5%) will pay less because of a "hold harmless" provision that limits certain beneficiaries' increase in their Part B premium to be no greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits.
Then there's the 5% of Medicare recipients who have to pay income-related surcharges. The graduated surcharges for high-income seniors kick in for singles with modified adjusted gross income of more than $85,000 and for couples with a MAGI of more than $170,000. An individual earning more than $85,000, but less than or equal to $107,000, will pay $189.60 in total a month for Part B premiums in 2019, including a $54.10 surcharge. That’s barely up from 2018: $187.50 total in a month, including a $53.50 surcharge.
By comparison, the wealthiest retirees – singles with $500,000 of income and couples with $750,000 of income -- will see a 10.3% increase in their income-related surcharge from $294.60 in 2018 (when they were part of the greater-than-$160,000/$320,000 group) to $325 in 2019. Total premiums for this group will be $460.50 a month in 2019 ($11,052 a year).1
Medicare Part B has a deductible, that is to say, an amount that must first be paid by the enrollee for medical services prior to Part B contributing towards costs. In 2019, the Medicare Part B deductible is $185 a year.
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