Each year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issues a guidebook for Medicare beneficiaries called Medicare and You.
You can expect to receive a printed copy of the Medicare and You guide in late September of each year. You can also choose to get your handbook electronically. If you choose to get an electronic copy, you will not receive a printed copy in the mail.
Below, we outline some of the Medicare information you’ll find in the guide, as well as instructions to download your own copy.
Your Medicare Coverage Options
In the 2019 Medicare and You guide, you’ll find basic information about your Medicare coverage options, including:
Medicare Part A: Hospital insurance that helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice facilities and limited home health care.
Medicare Part B: Medical insurance that helps cover outpatient care, preventive services and durable medical equipment (among other medical services).
Medicare Part C: Medicare coverage that is sold by private insurers to replace Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Every Part C plan must provide at least the same benefits as Medicare Part A and Part B, and many offer additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage and vision and dental coverage. Medicare Part C is often referred to as Medicare Advantage.
Medicare Part D: These plans help cover prescription drugs, which Original Medicare does not typically cover. Each Part D plan has its own list of covered drugs. You can receive Part D coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan that offers it, or through a standalone Prescription Drug Plan that can be used with Original Medicare or certain Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare Supplement Insurance: These plans are sold by private insurers to help cover some of the out-of-pocket costs that Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) do no cover, such as deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. Medicare Supplement Insurance plans may not be used with Medicare Advantage plans — only Original Medicare.
Basic Medicare Costs
Although Medicare helps cover numerous hospital and medical costs, it doesn’t cover everything, and you’re responsible for some of your medical expenses.
Here’s how the cost of each component of Medicare can be broken down:1
Medicare Part A
Most people do not pay a monthly premium for Part A, as long as they or their spouse paid sufficient Medicare taxes while working.
Medicare Part A also requires you to meet a $1,364 deductible per benefit period before Medicare will pay its share for covered services. Once your Part A deductible is met, you’ll pay the following coinsurance amounts for most hospital services:
- Days 1-60 in hospital: $0 coinsurance per benefit period
- Days 61-90: $341 coinsurance per day of each benefit period
- Days 91 and beyond: $682 coinsurance per each “lifetime reserve day” after day 90 for each benefit period (up to 60 days over your lifetime)
- Beyond lifetime reserve days: You are responsible for all costs
Medicare Part B
The standard Part B premium in 2019 is $135.50, but could be higher depending on your income.
Medicare Part B also requires you to meet a $185 deductible each year before Medicare will pay its share for covered services. After your Part B deductible is met, you typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for covered services and Medicare pays the rest.
Because Medicare Parts C and D and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are sold by private insurers, costs will vary by plan.
When to Enroll in Medicare
The best time to enroll in Medicare is during your Initial Enrollment Period, which typically begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month of your birthday, and ends three months after your 65th birthday.*
During your Initial Enrollment Period, you may enroll in Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D and Medicare Advantage.
The best time to enroll in Medicare Supplement Insurance is during your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which begins the month that you are both 65 years or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. While you can technically enroll in Medigap at any time, doing so during your Medigap open enrollment period could be advantageous. You won’t be subjected to medical underwriting during this period, and therefore can’t be charged more or denied coverage because of your health history.
Throughout 2019, there will be additional enrollment periods for anyone looking to add, drop or change coverage under various circumstances.
Gathering the information you need and conducting some advanced planning is the key to finding just the right combination of Medicare coverage for your health care needs. Take advantage of your benefit options and stay healthy in 2018.
* People with certain disabilities or medical conditions may qualify for Medicare sooner.
Download a Copy of Medicare and You 2019
If you don’t want to wait to receive your copy of Medicare and You 2019 in the mail, you can download a copy of the handbook now!
There are multiple formats, including:
Learn More about Medicare Supplement Insurance
We’re here to help you understand Medicare every step of the way. To learn more about Medicare Supplement Insurance, including plans available in your area, speak with a licensed insurance agent at 1-844-578-9506.
1 All Medicare cost data according to Medicare.gov “Medicare Costs at a Glance,” November 2018