Does Medicare Cover Anesthesia?

Original Medicare covers most of the costs of anesthesia services. You may still be responsible for a portion of the Medicare-approved costs, and you may have to pay an additional copayment to the facility. Anesthesia for colonoscopy is completely covered under Medicare Part B, as long as the doctor or health care provider accepts Medicare.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 35 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

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  • Edited By
    Lee Williams
    Lee Williams, senior editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lee Williams

    Senior Financial Editor

    Lee Williams is a professional writer, editor and content strategist with 10 years of professional experience working for global and nationally recognized brands. He has contributed to Forbes, The Huffington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, AskMen.com, Electric Literature and The Wall Street Journal. His career also includes ghostwriting for Fortune 500 CEOs and published authors.

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  • Published: May 10, 2021
  • Updated: October 13, 2023
  • 5 min read time
  • This page features 5 Cited Research Articles
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APA Turner, T. (2023, October 13). Does Medicare Cover Anesthesia? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/treatments/surgery/anesthesia/

MLA Turner, Terry. "Does Medicare Cover Anesthesia?" RetireGuide.com, 13 Oct 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/treatments/surgery/anesthesia/.

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Does Medicare Cover Anesthesia?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified October 13, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/treatments/surgery/anesthesia/.

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Anesthesia Coverage at a Glance
Medicare PlanAnesthesia Coverage
Part A (Inpatient)Covers most costs of anesthesia if you are formally admitted as a hospital inpatient. You are responsible for your Part A deductible. The hospital must accept Medicare. You are responsible for your Part A deductible.
Part B (Outpatient)Covers most anesthesia costs in an outpatient setting — including hospital outpatient departments or freestanding facilities so long as providers accept Medicare. You are responsible for 20% of the cost and your Part B deductible.
Part C (Medicare Advantage)Coverage mirrors Part A and Part B, but may offer additional benefits.
Part D (Prescription Drugs)N/A
Supplemental InsuranceMay cover some out-of-pocket costs if you have Original Medicare

Medicare Coverage for Anesthesia

Original Medicare — Medicare Part A and Part B — covers most of the costs for anesthesia services so long as they are associated with a Medicare-covered medical or surgical service.

Medicare spent about $2 billion on anesthesia services for Medicare beneficiaries in 2018, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Medicare Coverage for Anesthesia Services
Medicare Part A hospital insurance
Medicare Part A covers anesthesia services if you are an inpatient at a hospital — meaning you have been formally admitted to the hospital.
Medicare Part B medical insurance
Medicare Part B covers anesthesia services you receive in an outpatient setting. This includes procedures you may receive in a hospital outpatient department or in a freestanding ambulatory surgical center.

Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to cover everything Medicare Part A and Part B covers, but they may also provide additional benefits beyond Original Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurers and benefits vary from plan to plan.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have to use an anesthesiologist within your plan’s network to avoid additional costs.

Your Costs for Anesthesia If You Have Medicare

You have to pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved cost for anesthesia provided by a doctor or certified registered nurse anesthetist. You also have to pay your Medicare Part B deductible if your anesthesia services are provided in an outpatient setting.

You are also responsible for any additional copayment charged by the facility where you received your procedure.

A Medigap — Medicare Supplement insurance — policy can help you cover out-of-pocket costs. These are policies sold by private insurers that can be used to help pay your deductibles, coinsurance and copayments that Original Medicare does not cover.

Does Medicare Cover Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation for eligible surgeries and other procedures is covered by Medicare Part B medical insurance. Your out-of-pocket costs apply as with other types of anesthesia services.

Conscious sedation is typically used for dental procedures that Medicare may not cover, such as routine cleanings. But it’s also used for endoscopies and minor surgical procedures that Medicare does cover.

Did You Know?
There are four levels of sedation/analgesia and general anesthesia, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Conscious sedation is the second lowest level of sedation/anesthesia.

Also called moderate sedation or analgesia, conscious sedation is a drug-induced state during which a patient can respond to verbal commands and still has a sense of touch, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Under conscious sedation, you don’t need help breathing, and you can typically maintain cardiovascular function on your own. This compares with general anesthesia during which you can’t be aroused even with painful stimulus, you may need help breathing, and your cardiovascular function may be impaired.

Medicare and Anesthesia for Colonoscopies

Medicare Part B covers the full cost of anesthesia services for a colonoscopy if it is to screen for colon cancer, which is a Medicare-covered condition. The doctor must accept Medicare, and the procedure must be for colon cancer screening purposes only.

If the doctor removes polyps or other tissue during the procedure, Medicare considers the colonoscopy a treatment rather than a preventive service, and you will have to pay out-of-pocket costs for anesthesia and other aspects of the procedure.

Medicare may not pay for anesthesia if the colonoscopy is for the purpose of diagnosing other symptoms or conditions. This includes colonoscopies ordered to diagnose gastrointestinal disorders or symptoms including diarrhea, bloating or blood in your stool.

FAQs About Medicare's Coverage of Anesthesia

What types of anesthesia procedures are covered by Medicare?
Medicare covers both general and local anesthesia for medically necessary procedures such as heart surgery, colonoscopies, biopsies or joint replacements. It does not cover anesthesia for cosmetic or elective surgeries.
Does Medicare cover anesthesia for a colonoscopy?
Medicare Part B pays all costs associated with anesthesia for a colonoscopy as long as the doctor or other provider accepts Medicare. Medicare considers a colonoscopy to be a preventive service fully covered by Part B.
How does Medigap cover anesthesia services?
Medigap can help cover out-of-pocket costs for anesthesia services if you have Original Medicare. It will not cover your Part B deductible but, depending on the type Medigap plan you have, it can offset or cover all of your 20% Part B coinsurance for anesthesia.
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Last Modified: October 13, 2023

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, January 1). Chapter II; Anesthesia Services CPT Codes 00000-01999. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/files/document/chapter2cptcodes00000-01999final11.pdf
  2. U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2020, October 26). Anesthesia Services: Differences Between Private and Medicare Payments Likely Due to Providers’ Strong Negotiating Position. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-21-41
  3. American Society of Anesthesiologists. (2019, October 23). Continuum of Depth of Sedation: Definition of General Anesthesia and Levels of Sedation/Analgesia. Retrieved from https://www.asahq.org/standards-and-guidelines/statement-on-continuum-of-depth-of-sedation-definition-of-general-anesthesia-and-levels-of-sedation-analgesia
  4. Anesthesia Business Consultants. (2014, December 8). Medicare Eliminates Patient Cost-Sharing for Anesthesia for Screening Colonoscopies. Retrieved from https://www.anesthesiallc.com/publications/anesthesia-provider-news-ealerts/724-medicare-eliminates-patient-cost-sharing-for-anesthesia-for-screening-colonscopies
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Anesthesia. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/anesthesia