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Medicare 101

Medicare and You 2024: The Official Medicare Booklet

Download your free copy of Medicare and You 2024, the annual "Medicare for dummies" guidebook from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published January 05, 2024 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

What is the Medicare and You Handbook?

Medicare and You 2024 is the Medicare Handbook that is published and distributed by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) each year. They publish this book for Medicare beneficiaries to help guide them in the selection and understanding of Medicare.

Below is a guide to some of the Medicare information you can find in the Medicare & You 2024 edition, as well as information on where you can download your very own copy.

When To Expect Your Mailed Copy of "Medicare and You 2024"

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will typically send you a printed copy of Medicare and You in late September of each year. You can also choose to get your handbook electronically. If you choose to get it electronically, you won’t receive a printed copy in the mail.

If for some reason you don’t get your Medicare and You 2024 handbook in the mail, or if you would like to receive an additional copy, you can order a printed copy by calling 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE).

You can also download a copy of the handbook to have for your reference. There are multiple formats, including:

There are also versions of the handbook that you can download to your Kindle and other eBook devices, large-print versions, an audio version and a braille edition.

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What's New and Important With Medicare in 2024?

The beginning of Medicare and You is a list of new Medicare changes and updates, which in 2024 include:

  • New potential savings for prescription drug costs
  • Lower insulin and vaccine costs for beneficiaries
  • Important changes to COVID-19 care, mental health services and telehealth
  • New chronic pain treatment coverage

Your Medicare Coverage Options

Medicare and You goes on to cover many of the basics of Medicare, such your Medicare coverage options (the parts of Medicare):

  • Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and covers inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice facilities and limited at-home care.

  • Medicare Part B is medical insurance and provides coverage for outpatient care, preventive services and durable medical equipment.

    *The combination of Part A and Part B together is known as Original Medicare.

  • Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurers and are designed to be used in place of Original Medicare. These plans by law must provide at least the same basic coverage as Original Medicare. Many Medicare Advantage plans may also offer additional benefits such as vision insurance or prescription drug coverage.

  • Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage. Like Medicare Advantage, these plans are sold by private insurers. 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.

Finally, Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap) is used in conjunction with Original Medicare to provide coverage for some of Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. Medigap plans are also sold by private insurers.

As a new Medicare enrollee, you will have seven coverage combinations to choose from:

  1. Part A
  2. Part A and Part B (Part B is optional, but you cannot have Part B without Part A)
  3. Part A and Part D
  4. Part A, Part B and Part D
  5. Part A, Part B, Part D and Medicare Supplement Insurance (you must have both Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan)
  6. Part A, Part B and Medicare Supplement Insurance
  7. A Medicare Advantage plan (your plan may or may not include Part D coverage. If not, you may be able to buy a standalone Part D Prescription Drug Plan. You may not have Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement Insurance at the same time).

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How Much You’ll Pay for Medicare Coverage

Here’s how the cost of each component of Medicare can be broken down:

  • Most people don't pay a premium for Part A, although there are certain exceptions where beneficiaries will have to pay a premium for their Medicare Part A benefits.
  • Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement Insurance and Medicare Part D plans are all sold on the private insurance market, so costs will vary between plan, provider and location.

As previously mentioned, Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D and Medicare Advantage plans may come with additional out-of-pocket expenses. In the case of Part A and Part B, Medicare Supplement Insurance may help pay for some of these costs.

When to Enroll in Medicare

You may begin your Medicare enrollment process prior to turning 65, in some cases. Your Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month of your birthday and continues for three more months for a total of seven months. During this time, you may enroll in Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D or Medicare Advantage.

For Medicare Supplement Insurance, your six-month Medigap open enrollment period that begins the month that you are both 65 years old AND enrolled in Part B. While you can technically enroll in Medigap at any time, doing so during your Medigap open enrollment period is 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 2024, you may have additional enrollment periods to add, drop or change Medigap coverage, depending on your personal circumstances and the type of coverage you have.

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 2024.

Call a licensed insurance agent today to learn more about enrolling in Medicare Supplement Insurance.

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