Medicare Part A and B Won’t Cover These Services

Seniors never want to be confused about their healthcare options, but more than one in five beneficiaries say Medicare is confusing.

“In 2013, UnitedHealthcare conducted a survey of 1,000 adults ages 65 and up, questioning their knowledge of the Medicare program,” according to Sean Williams of The Motley Fool. “The results showed that about 20% find Medicare to be ‘confusing,’ with many respondents unaware of what each part of the program covers.”

The survey also concluded that only 5% were aware that Medicare Advantage plans cover hospital care, doctor visits, and prescription drug costs. Only about one-third of respondents were aware of the fact that Medicare Part B, or medical insurance, provides coverage for doctor visits.

It’s important to know what each part covers illustrated below:

In order for seniors to take full advantage of Medicare, it’s important to know what Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B won’t cover. Here are 10 services Medicare Part A and B won’t pay for that seniors should acknowledge:

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1. Out-of-country medical care

Medicare does not offer assistance if you’re traveling outside of the country. If you’re planning to go overseas, you may want to look into some form of supplemental health insurance plan.

2. Hearing aids and routine hearing tests

Under Medicare, hearing loss tests and hearing aid devices are considered elective, meaning you will have to pay for these services. An exception would be diagnostic hearing tests ordered by your doctor or healthcare provider to determine whether you need medical treatment. In this case, Medicare Part B would help pay for this service.

3. Routine eye care and most eyeglasses

Vision care is classified as an elective by Medicare, which means it is your responsibility to pay. However, the one exception to the rule pertains to cataract surgery where an intraocular lens is implanted. In this instance, Medicare Part B will help pay for one pair of corrective glasses or contact lenses. Beyond this, vision care should be covered by a supplemental plan offered by private insurers.

4. Routine dental care and dentures

Routine dental care is also not covered by either Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B. The one exception to the rule would be Medicare Part A, which would help pay for certain dental services you might need when you’re a patient in the hospital (i.e., emergency or complicated dental procedures).

5. Routine foot care

If your doctor (usually a podiatrist) orders necessary treatments for heel spurs, bunion deformities, or hammer toes, then you’ll be covered by Medicare Part B. If, however, you want a corn or callus removed, or need some other maintenance procedure, you will have to pay out of pocket.

6. Cosmetic surgery

If you want cosmetic surgery, Medicare will not cover this procedure. The exception is when the cosmetic surgery will repair an accidental injury or improve the function of a “malformed body part,” as described by Examples include breast prostheses following a breast cancer-related mastectomy, eyelid reduction in cases where vision is substantially hindered, and potentially plastic surgery procedures following a gastric bypass.

7. Acupuncture, acupressure, and homeopathic treatments

Unfortunately for those who use acupuncture, acupressure, or homeopathic treatments, Medicare doesn’t cover any of them, as they’re deemed elective rather than necessary treatments. The one exception would be limited chiropractic coverage under Medicare Part B.

8. Custodial care

Medicare Part A will help cover some of the expenses involved in skilled nursing facility care, including the changing of sterile dressings. But if all you need is custodial care (i.e., help with bathing, dressing, eating, and using the bathroom), then you’ll be 100% responsible for the cost.

9. Certain diabetes supplies

Medicare Part B actually covers quite a bit when it comes to diabetes testing supplies and services. An eligible patient can get glucose strips and monitors, insulin, and yearly glaucoma, eye, and foot exams. However, it’s not uncommon for diabetics to need more than insulin to manage their disease. Any medications beyond insulin are likely to fall under Part D coverage and would thus be outside the purview of Part B coverage.

10. Personal comfort items and services

Medicare doesn’t cover personal comfort items and services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides examples of radios, televisions, or beauty and barber services as examples the consumer will be responsible for covering. Among the rare exceptions would be basic personal services performed within skilled nursing facilities, such as shaves, haircuts, and shampoos, which would be covered under Medicare Part A.

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Related Links

Medicare Parts Explained

Medicare Education: Services NOT Covered by Medicare

What Does Medicare Cover?

How to Change Medicare Plans

10 Things to Acknowledge When Considering Medicare Plans

8 Essentials to Understanding Medicare

5 Services Seniors Need that Medicare Doesn’t Cover

4 Puzzling Medicare and Medicaid Stats You Should Know


Medicare World Editorial Team

The Medicare World editorial team works diligently to make sure our stories are informative, unbiased, and of utmost relevance to our readers. Our team of researchers and writers presents the best and latest information on all things Medicare, including legislation, enrollment rules, changes in coverage and costs, and health information. We enjoy keeping our readers up-to-date and helping them navigate the often-complicated Medicare maze.

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