12 Things Medicare Part B Covers and 5 Things It Doesn’t

INSURANCE
Don't get caught off guard by learning the gaps in Medicare Part B coverage.
Updated April 9, 2024
Fact checked
Doctor talking to patients

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

While finding insurance coverage is always a hassle, Medicare has a vocabulary all its own that can be particularly hard for first-time plan participants to parse.

For instance, Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, and Part D covers prescription drugs, but Medicare Part B is a more general medical insurance plan.

But what can you expect from Medicare Part B coverage, and just how much will it impact your bottom line? 

We answer these common Part B questions to help you avoid wasting money on services your insurance won't cover.

Eliminate your late tax debt

Each year, the IRS forgives millions in unpaid taxes. If you have more than $10,000 in tax debt, or have 3+ years of unfiled taxes, you could get forgiveness too. You might be eligible to lower the amount you owe, or eliminate your tax debt completely.

Easy Tax Relief could help you lower or get out of your tax debt for good. They’re well respected in the industry and have been recognized for their ethical standards when dealing with tax debt. While most tax companies just put you on a payment plan and file your taxes for you, Easy Tax Relief talks to the IRS directly. They can help you pay off your tax debt faster while potentially reducing what you owe.

Important: Not everyone will qualify. To take advantage of this special program you must owe more than $10,000 in past-due taxes.

Fill out this form to get started

What is Medicare Part B?

Michael Petrov/Adobe doctor writing medicare with black marker on mirror

Medicare Part B is one essential half of the Original Medicare insurance plan. The other half, Part A, contributes to major health expenses like hospital stays, hospice care, and at-home health care services you might need as you age. 

Part B covers less intensive, more mundane medical experiences, including doctor’s visits and preventive care.

You’re eligible to enroll in Medicare three months before you turn 65 — whether you retire early or plan to retire as late as possible.

Durable diabetic equipment (Covered)

Syda Productions/Adobe senior man with glucometer checking blood sugar

Medicare Part B covers durable medical equipment (DME) or long-lasting, typically pricy devices used at home. 

For instance, Part B will help pay for at-home glucose monitors and the lancets and glucose tests you use with the monitors. Part B may also cover the cost of non-disposable, durable insulin pumps.

Note that Part B doesn’t include coverage for insulin itself. You need Medicare Part D, which pays for prescription drugs, to get insulin coverage.

Emergency ambulance transportation to the nearest ER (Covered)

Tyler Olson/Adobe Female EMT

While Medicare Part A helps cover hospital stays, you need Medicare Part B to pay for ambulance trips to the nearest emergency hospital.

Medicare Part B may also cover non-emergency ambulance trips, but only if your doctor writes you an order for non-emergency transportation.

Earn $200 cash rewards bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees) has no annual fee and you can earn $200 after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

The Active Cash Card puts cash back into your wallet. Cardholders can earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases — easy! That's one of the best cash rewards options available.

This card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable). Which is great for someone who wants a break from high interest rates, while still earning rewards.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

Recommended cancer screenings (Covered)

serperm73/Adobe Indian doctor in a white coat

As you get older, it’s important to stay on top of preventive cancer screenings to rule out the possibility of cancer or seek early intervention.

Medicare’s cancer screening coverage varies depending on the patient’s age and the type of cancer. 

For instance, Medicare will cover one breast cancer screening per year and one colonoscopy every two years (for high-risk patients) or 10 years (for everyone else).

Diabetic screenings (Covered)

Ermolaeva Olga/Adobe female nurse holding a womans hand for conducting blood test

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 16 million seniors have diabetes, almost 30% of the senior population.

If your doctor flags you at risk for developing diabetes, Medicare Part B helps cover labs for glucose tests up to twice per calendar year.

Diabetic self-management training (Covered)

Sherry Young/Adobe human insulin vials

If your covered glucose tests reveal a diabetes diagnosis, Medicare will help pay for 10 hours of self-management training to teach you how to manage your diabetes from home.

Flu shots (Covered)

Khunatorn/Adobe elderly getting immune vaccine at arm for flu shot

Seniors have a much higher likelihood of experiencing serious complications from the seasonal flu.

Since flu shots are a critical preventive measure for protecting seniors and stopping the flu from spreading through the community, Medicare pays for one seasonal flu vaccine per year.

Walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters (Covered)

Creative Sparks/Adobe woman in the wheelchair enjoying the view on the beach with her dog

Durable medical equipment covered by Medicare Part B includes mobility devices like walkers, wheelchairs, and electric-powered scooters.

Part B will only help with the coverage if your doctor asserts that you need the medical equipment at home to assist with your mobility and quality of life.

Annual wellness visits (Covered)

Studio Romantic/Adobe female-doctor-showing-smartphone-to-lady

A wellness visit refers to a Medicare-sponsored annual check-in with your primary care provider where you create, discuss, or update a personal health care treatment plan.

While the visit may include basic physical metrics like your blood pressure, weight, and heart rate, its main purpose is to construct a unique health care plan that considers your family’s health history, personal risk factors, and current quality of life.

Take advantage of historically high rates to grow your wealth

Are your savings just sitting around, not earning much interest? It's time to make a change and put your money to work for you! With CloudBank 24/7, you can earn more interest on your money today ... while keeping your cash OUT of the stock market.

Here’s their secret: CloudBank 24/7 amplifies your money by doing what many banks refuse to do … paying you a rare 5.26% APY (annual percentage yield)12 on your cash.

When you deposit your money into this high-yield savings account, you can supercharge your emergency fund, short-term savings, return on cash, and more with interest income generated from their high 5.26% APY payout.

The best part? There are no fees, you can withdraw your money at any time, and opening an account takes as little as 3 minutes. CloudBank 24/7 is FDIC-insured through Third Coast Bank SSB and cybersecurity is a top priority, ensuring your data is kept safe.

Click here to open a CloudBank 24/7 online savings account

Nutrition counseling for diabetes and kidney disease (Covered)

Mediteraneo/Adobe senior woman holding apple

To manage a medical issue like diabetes and kidney disease, your doctor will likely recommend some dietary changes. 

For instance, seniors with kidney disease should be cautious about consuming too much salt, while those with diabetes must carefully monitor their blood sugar levels.

To help you adjust to a new diet, Medicare Part B will pay for nutrition counseling sessions and check-ins with a registered dietician.

Smoking cessation counseling (Covered)

1STunningART/Adobe Hand holding a no smoking sign with blurred crowd in the back

Smoking can drastically increase your risk of heart disease, strokes, and lung cancer.

If you want help to quit smoking, Medicare will help cover as many as eight tobacco- or smoking-related counseling sessions each year to help you stop.

Outpatient mental health care (Covered)

Syda Productions/Adobe psychologist talking to senior woman

Medicare Part B covers outpatient treatment for mental and physical health. Specifically, Part B helps pay for counseling, depression screenings, family therapy, diagnosis, and psychiatric evaluations.

It may also pay for partial hospitalizations, which your doctor could recommend as an alternative to longer-term inpatient hospitalizations. (Long-term hospitalizations are only covered through Medicare Part A.)

Dialysis (Covered)

Tyler Olson/Adobe nurse assisting patient undergoing renal dialysis

If you have end-stage renal disease and your kidneys no longer function properly, you’ll likely need dialysis, a treatment that rids your blood of waste products your kidneys would otherwise flush out of your system.

While Medicare Part A pays for hospital stays related to kidney failure, Part B pays for outpatient services, including dialysis center visits, some home dialysis supplies, and training that teaches you and a caregiver to perform home dialysis.

Disposable insulin pens and supplies (Not covered)

Aleksandra Gigowska/Adobe insulin vials and syringe

Medicare Part B covers durable medical instruments, which don’t include disposable, single-use medical devices like syringes and needles. 

Similarly, Part B doesn’t cover disposable, sterile supplies needed for safe insulin injections, such as gauze or alcohol wipes.

Prescription medications (Not covered)

Clayton D/peopleimages.com/Adobe woman with healthcare medicine

You must sign up for a Medicare Part D plan to get insurance coverage for prescription drugs. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage, you’ll be charged a late enrollment fee based on the amount of time you spent without coverage.

It’s smart to get Medicare Part D during your initial enrollment, even if you aren’t taking prescription medications.

Inpatient hospital care (Not covered)

Nattakorn/Adobe hospitalized patient looking out of window

Medicare Part B covers many outpatient services and medical products, including medical devices you can use at home, like walkers and glucose tests. It also covers ambulance transportation to the nearest emergency room if you experience a medical emergency.

But it doesn’t cover anything related to a hospital stay once you’re admitted. For inpatient hospital coverage, you’ll need Medicare Part A.

Short-term care at a skilled nursing facility (Not covered)

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe physical therapist assisting man training

After being hospitalized for a major medical event, such as a debilitating injury or illness, you might need to spend time at a skilled nursing facility (SNF) as part of your recovery process. 

An SNF is a short-term outpatient care facility that provides speech therapy, physical therapy, and other rehabilitation-based services.

Even though it occurs outside of a hospital, an SNF stay is only covered by Medicare Part A, not Part B.

Inpatient surgery (Not covered)

A Stockphoto/Adobe A surgery

Medicare Part A (not Part B) helps you pay for medically necessary surgeries requiring an inpatient hospital stay. The surgery has to be deemed medically necessary — not cosmetic or optional — to qualify for Medicare coverage.

On the other hand, if one doctor recommends you for surgery but you want a second opinion before you commit, Medicare Part B may help you keep more money in your bank account by paying for your secondary doctor’s visit.

Bottom line

Syda Productions/Adobe old man and doctor with prescription at hospital

Health care expenses can take up a big chunk of your retirement budget, so choosing the right health insurance plan is a must.

During your initial enrollment period, compare Medicare Part B’s coverage to the coverage you’d get from a private Medicare-contracted insurer with a Medicare Advantage plan.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards

5.0

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt