Medicare and You 2020 & 2021 Guidebook – Read This First
Your Introduction to the Medicare and You 2020 & 2021 Book, and where to get a copy.
The Medicare and You 2021 Guidebook details what you need to know about Medicare benefits for the current year. In it you will find the basics of Medicare, how to get it, and what changes the program is implementing in the calendar year.
However, it is 120 pages long and very detailed. It is also very dry and technical.
So, if you are trying to learn more about Medicare – without falling asleep in the process – we have on-topic website article suggestions for you here that follow the elements of the Medicare and You 2020 Guide.
Where to find the guide
- If you would like to follow along with the Guide itself, you can find it online here: Medicare & You Handbook 2021
- If you need a physical copy of the Medicare and You 2020 guide, you can request one here: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
What is included in the Medicare and You 2021 Guidebook?
Here we will outline the sections of the guidebook and give you relevant articles that discuss the various Medicare elements and benefits.
What are the Parts of Medicare?
Intro Section (page 5)
The Medicare and You book starts out with summarizing parts A, B, and D and what they include.
- Medicare Part A – Hospital Insurance
- Part B – Medicare Insurance
- Part D – Drug Coverage
Medicare Part C is discussed in the next section.
Related Article: For an illustrated overview of the four parts of Medicare, visit our medicare parts infographic and article “Medicare Parts A B C D.”
What are my Medicare options?
Intro Section on Original vs Medicare Advantage (pages 6-8)
Many online comparisons are between Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage plans as those are the additions that are in your hands to choose.
However, all these comparisons are in their simplest form between having Original Medicare vs Medicare Advantage. This section does a side-by-side comparison of the two (with or without a supplement).
Related Article: For a more in-depth discussion to help you decide what Medicare options are right for you, please read the “Medicare Advantage vs Medicare Supplements” article here.
How do I get Medicare?
“Section 1: Signing up for Medicare” (pages 15-24)
People get Medicare in different ways. Some are signed-up for it automatically if you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement. Some people must sign up for it when they turn 65 (or delay it if they are not ready at 65).
This section gives you people to call (Social Security at 1-800-772-1213) and places to visit (online at ssa.gov/benefits/medicare) if you need to sign yourself up.
Other topics covered include, when to sign-up, what to sign-up for, and what does each part cost?
- Read this article to discover what Medicare will cost you.
- Also, read this article to learn more about any Medicare Late Fees and Penalties.
- If you need help in deciding what to sign-up for, we suggest this article on speaking with a licensed insurance professional.
- Finally, if you want to learn more about the Annual Enrollment Period, please see this article.
Hey, Medicare and You 2021, Will Medicare Cover My…?
“Section 2: Find out if Medicare covers your test, service or item” (pages 25-50)
This section lists all Medicare Benefits you will receive if you are signed-up for both Medicare Parts A and B. These benefits are universal, meaning they are the standards of care you will receive whether you are receiving Medicare from the federal government or through a private carrier with a Medicare Advantage Plan.
If you are looking to see if a specific benefit is included in Medicare, this is the section to search for it.
This section also reminds you of what is not included in Medicare, such as Long-Term Care insurance. In addition, Original Medicare does NOT include many services that ARE covered by Medicare Advantage Plans. These include dental care, eye exams, hearing benefits, and fitness programs.
2020 New Offering Alert: One interesting change noted in the Medicare and You 2020 book is that many Medicare Advantage programs are now offering “telehealth” benefits where you can see a provider at home instead of at their facility. The guidebook notes that this is typically beyond what Original Medicare can offer.
Related Article: To see the basics of what Medicare Covers, please see our article “Medicare Parts A B C D.”
What exactly is Original Medicare?
“Section 3: Original Medicare” (pages 51-54)
The Original Medicare section explains how our Federal Health Insurance for Seniors works. If you have Original Medicare, with or without a supplement, you are a beneficiary of a nationalized health care system and the government is the primary payer of your health benefits.
Read this section to learn how that works and how to use your benefits once you are on Medicare.
Related Article: Read “What is Medicare?“
What is Medicare Advantage?
“Section 4: Medicare Advantage Plans & other options”
The other option than being on Original Medicare is to be on a Medicare Advantage Plan. In this case, a private insurance company becomes your primary payer and main contact. Medicare Advantage (MA/MAPD) Plans are called “bundled plans” because they combine parts A, B and D to form one “Plan C.”
They often have reduced costs for premium payments, with some of them even offering “$0” monthly premiums. In addition, they often include extra benefits, not included by government Medicare, such as dental, hearing and eye care. ““Silver Sneakers” and similar fitness/wellness programs are also often an included benefit.
- To read more: “What is Medicare Advantage?”
- Plus, to read about when you can join an MA/MAPD plan, please read here about AEP.
- Finally, if you would like to compare Original Medicare + Medigap and MA, please read this.
What is a Medicare Supplement / Medigap Plan?
“Section 5: Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies” (pages 69-72)
When you opt for keeping Original Medicare (instead of a Medicare Advantage Plan) you will most likely want to pair that with not just a stand-alone drug plan, but also with a Medigap Plan. These plans are also called Medicare Supplement Plans.
They are supplemental insurance plans that pick up paying where Original Medicare leaves off – such as with the 20% coinsurance, co-pays and deductibles.
The government sets the requirements for each supplement plan and then the private insurance companies decide what price they can offer for each plan in each market they are in. These plans are labeled with letters, and offer the exact same benefits no matter what private insurance company you choose.
Related Article: For more information, please read this article on Medicare Supplement Insurance.
What is Part D?
“Section 6: Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D)” (pages 73-82)
Read this section to learn how Medicare Drug Plans work, where to get one, and when you can get one / switch them.
Remember, that if you opt for a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will most likely have your drug plan included (which is called a MAPD plan).
- Please visit this article on Part D Prescription Drug Insurance.
- Or to learn about the various costs, click here.
- Finally, if you are worried about Part D late enrollment penalties, please read this.
Can I get help paying for medical costs?
“Section 7: Get help paying your health & prescription drug costs” (pages 83-88)
The government has set up several ways for Medicare Beneficiaries to get help in paying for their health insurance. Read this section to see if you qualify for the various tiers of assistance.
How can I protect myself?
“Section 8: Know your rights & protect yourself from fraud” (pages 89-100)
The U.S. government understands that health insurance can be confusing, and there are people out there that will try to take advantage of this confusion. Read this section to know how to protect yourself from health care and insurance fraud.
In addition, Section 8 also explains your rights under Medicare and how to make an appeal if you decide your rights have been violated. The Medicare and You 2020 book defines an appeal as “…the action you can take if you disagree with a coverage or payment decision by Medicare or your Medicare plan.”
How do I get my questions answered?
“Section 9: Get more information” (pages 101-112)
Next, if you have questions related to Original Medicare, the handbook offers you the following numbers to call:
1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)Medicare and You 2021
TTY users call 1-877-486-2048
Get information 24 hours a day, including weekends
Additionally, for questions regarding insurance plans like Supplement (Medigap) or Medicare Advantage (MA/MAPD) then we suggested talking to a licensed insurance professional.
If you are lucky enough to live in our headquarters of Nebraska or our neighboring state of Iowa, you can contact us here.
What does this word mean?
“Section 10: Definitions” (pages 113-116)
Do you just live to read a good glossary? Well, here you go. You will find here definitions to all the health care and insurance lingo you need to know to navigate your health care effectively.
Related Article: Feel free to look through all our Medicare Articles. They are all listed on this page.
Medicare and You 2020/2021 Handbook Review
We hope our review of the 2020 & 2021 Medicare and You Book has been helpful.
Our one hope for next year is that the book might be more helpful in pointing beneficiaries towards ways to find LICENSED independent insurance professionals that can help them in making decisions. These agents are the only ones required to stay licensed, tested and up to date on the plans that are out there. Moreover, this applies especially for the Medicare Advantage approved agents as they have to be re-tested every year on changes.
Finally, we are MedicareLifeHealth.com just don’t understand how people can be offering advice on plans – that change yearly – they have not be certified to explain.
Our advice? Find yourself a good agent, and make them work for you.