Part B medical insurance is intended to cover basic medical services provided by doctors, clinics, and laboratories. However, the lists of services specifically covered and not covered are long, and do not always make a lot of sense.
Making the effort to learn what is and is not covered can be important, because you may get the most benefits by fitting your medical treatments into the covered categories whenever possible.
Part B insurance pays for:
- doctor services (including surgery) provided at a hospital, a doctor's office, or your home
- mammograms, pelvic exams, bone density tests, and PAP smears for women
- an annual flu shot
- a one-time physical exam (called a "wellness exam") done within six months of when you enroll in Medicare Part B
- medical services provided by nurses, surgical assistants, or laboratory or X-ray technicians
- outpatient hospital treatment, such as emergency room or clinic charges, X-rays, injections, and lab work
- an ambulance, if required for a trip to or from a hospital or skilled nursing facility
- drugs or other medicine administered to you at a hospital or doctor's office (for prescription drug benefits, consider enrolling in Medicare Part D, discussed below)
- medical equipment and supplies, such as splints, casts, prosthetic devices, body braces, heart pacemakers, corrective lenses after a cataract operation, glucose monitoring equipment, and therapeutic shoes for diabetics, and equipment such as ventilators, wheelchairs, and hospital beds
- some kinds of oral surgery
- some of the cost of outpatient physical and speech therapy
- a limited number of services by podiatrists and optometrists
- some care and counseling by psychologists, social workers, and daycare personnel
- some preventative screening exams, such as for cancer, glaucoma, and osteoporosis; as well as diabetes and heart disease, but only if your doctor says you're at risk for them
- manual manipulation of out-of-place vertebrae by a chiropractor
- Alzheimer's-related treatments
- scientifically proven obesity therapies and treatments, and
- part-time skilled nursing care, physical therapy, and speech therapy provided in your home.
For details, see our articles on what Medicare Part B covers and what what Medicare Part B does not cover.