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Common Questions

Medicare & You 2020: A First Look at the Medicare Handbook

Medicare & You is a handbook released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Get a first look at the handbook and download your copy.

The latest version of the Medicare & You handbook is available for 2023. Click here for your updated copy. For information on Medicare & You 2020, read more below.

Medicare & You 2020 is a handbook released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The CMS releases a handbook each year that details everything you’ll need to know about Medicare. 

There are some changes to Medicare coming up in 2020, such as costs for deductibles and copayments, as well as benefit adjustments.

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This new handbook keeps you up to date on the most recent changes. 

Medicare and You 2020 handbook cover

Where to get your copy of Medicare & You 2020

If you are currently enrolled in Medicare, you should receive a copy of Medicare & You 2020 by the end of October of 2019. If you have not received your copy by then, call 1-800-633-4227 to request one.

You may also view an electronic version of the handbook, whether or not you are enrolled in Medicare.

What does Medicare & You 2020 cover?

Medicare & You 2020 is well over 100 pages, so we’ve condensed the information for you below.  

Section 1: Signing up for Medicare

Pages: 15-24

There are only certain times of the year during which you may sign up for Medicare.

The Initial Election Period starts 3 months before your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after your 65th birthday.

When you first become eligible for Medicare, you will be given an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) that begins three months before you turn 65 years old, includes the month of your birthday and continues for three more months for a total of seven months. 

If you are already receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) at least four months before turning 65, you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare.

If you’re under 65 and eligible for Medicare due to disability, you’ll be automatically enrolled on your 25th month of receiving Social Security or certain RRB disability benefits. If you have ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you’ll be automatically enrolled the first month your disability benefits begin.

If you aren’t automatically enrolled, you can manually enroll during your IEP. If you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you typically must manually enroll as well.

Most people qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). Medicare Part B (medical insurance) is optional, though many people sign up for it.

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is also known as the Annual Election Period and the Medicare Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans, which lasts from October 15 to December 7 every year.

During the Annual Enrollment Period, you may be able to join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Section 1 of Medicare & You 2020 provides additional detailed information about Medicare eligibility and the various Medicare enrollment periods.

Section 2: Find out if Medicare covers your test, service, or item

Pages: 25-50

Different parts of Medicare cover different things

Part A is hospital insurance and provides coverage for hospital stays and other types of inpatient care. 

Part B is medical insurance and provides coverage for doctor’s appointments and other types of outpatient care along with durable medical equipment (DME).

Medicare Part C, Part D and Medicare Supplement Insurance provide additional benefits and are discussed in sections 4-6. 

Section 2 of Medicare & You 2020 provides a detailed overview of the services and items that are covered by the various parts of Medicare and how. 

Section 3: Original Medicare

Pages: 51-54

Part A and Part B of Medicare are known as “Original Medicare.” This is the portion of Medicare that is provided by the federal government.

This section of the handbook discusses how Original Medicare works, what you’ll need to pay, how Original Medicare is accepted by health care providers and everything else you need to know about using Original Medicare. 

Section 4: Medicare Advantage & other options

Pages: 55-68 

Medicare Part C is better known as “Medicare Advantage.”

Medicare Advantage is a type of private Medicare insurance that provides all of the same benefits as Original Medicare. Many MA plans offer additional coverage for things not found in Original Medicare.

The extra coverage that some Medicare Advantage plans may offer can include prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing aids and more.

Medicare Advantage plans come in a variety of types, and section 4 of Medicare & You 2020 provides an overview of these types of plans along with:

  • What Medicare Advantage plans cover
  • Plan rules
  • Eligibility
  • Joining, switching and leaving plans
  • How these plans work with other insurance
  • How these plans work and what you’ll pay

Section 5: Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies

Pages: 69-72

Medicare Supplement Insurance, or “Medigap,” is another type of private Medicare insurance. These policies are used on top of Original Medicare to provide coverage for some of the out-of-pocket expenses required under Part A and Part B. 

This section of the book details the various expenses covered by each of the 10 available Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. It also explains what else you need to know about Medigap including when and how to buy it. 

Section 6: Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D)

Pages: 73-82

Medicare Part D is the final type of private Medicare insurance. These plans provide coverage exclusively for prescription drugs and are used alongside Original Medicare. 

Section 6 of Medicare & You 2020 includes information pertaining to Part D plans such as:

  • How the plans work
  • Joining, switching and dropping plans
  • What you’ll pay
  • Which drugs are covered
  • Coverage rules
  • How these plans work with other insurance

Section 7: Get help paying your health & prescription drug costs

Pages: 83-88 

There are a number of programs and resources available for those who may have difficulty paying for their Medicare costs. This section of the handbook reviews the available programs along with their coverage and eligibility requirements 

Section 8: Know your rights & protect yourself from fraud

Pages: 89-100

As a Medicare member, you are protected with certain rights. These rights include discrimination, privacy, provider access and more. 

Section 8 of the book includes information about your rights and ways to protect yourself from being a victim of Medicare fraud.

Section 9: Get more information

Pages: 101-112

As you’ve probably figured out by now, there is a lot of information to know as it relates to Medicare. Section 9 of Medicare & You 2020 describes the various ways you can get more personalized help with your Medicare both online and over the phone.

This section also explains how to compare the quality of health care providers and plans.

You’ll also find a directory of State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) for each state. 

Section 10: Definitions

Pages: 113-116

Medicare contains a lot of terms that may be unfamiliar to you. The final section of the handbook defines these terms for you in an easy-to-understand way. 

The end of the book provides information about how to receive help in additional languages. 

How to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan

Call today to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you determine your eligibility to enroll and compare Medicare Advantage plans where you live.

Connect with a licensed insurance agent today to explore your Medicare Advantage plan options. 


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About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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