The Medicare & You 2021 Handbook

In this article...
  • Medicare & You 2021 is the annual Medicare handbook that goes out to all beneficiaries, but it’s freely available online to anyone who wants to learn more. Explore what you can find inside this helpful book.
Medicare & You 2021 handbook

The Medicare program is vast and complex, which is why the Medicare & You handbook is such a valuable resource for beneficiaries. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) releases the Medicare & You handbook and mails it to beneficiaries every fall in advance of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP, also called the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period). The handbook is also available for free by visiting Medicare.gov, the official government website for Medicare.

How Do You Get a Medicare And You Book?

The handbook is available in both paper and electronic versions, and there are audio and Braille versions available. By clicking “Get ‘Medicare & You’ in different formats,” you can access the book at any times of the year as:

  • A PDF in regular or large print in either English or Spanish
  • An eBook for a Kindle, iPad, Nook, Sony eReader and other electronic devices
  • An audio CD in English or Spanish
  • An audio podcast in English or Spanish
  • Braille
  • A paper copy

Is Medicare & You Only for a New Medicare Beneficiary?

You may think that the handbook is only for newcomers to the Medicare program and that it’s not relevant to you because you’ve been on Medicare for several years already or aren’t yet eligible. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Changes are made to Medicare every year. These can include changes to monthly premiums, annual deductibles, various terms and conditions and even what Medicare covers. It’s helpful to remain up to date on the latest changes so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. 

If you don’t yet have Medicare, it will greatly help your financial planning and your understanding of your health coverage options if you familiarize yourself with Medicare before it becomes your health insurance coverage.

What’s Included in Medicare & You 2021?

Here’s a summary of what you’ll find in the Medicare & You 2021 handbook. 

What’s New?

This section details what’s new in Medicare in 2021. COVID-19 Medicare benefits, new lower out-of-pocket costs for insulin, new Medicare telehealth benefits and other important 2021 Medicare changes are all included.

Introduction

An introductory section of the handbook includes information about the different parts of Medicare, coverage options and more, along with a detailed index of topics to help you better navigate the book. 

The handbook is then divided up into 10 sections outlined below. 

Section 1: Signing Up for Medicare

Here you’ll find information about the Medicare sign-up process, including information about Medicare enrollment periods, eligibility requirements, how much Medicare costs in 2021, how Medicare works with other types of insurance and more. 

Section 2: Find Out if Medicare Covers Your Test, Item or Service

This section summarizes the benefits covered by each part of Medicare along with a review of inpatient vs. outpatient status and other factors that can affect your coverage status. 

Section 3: Original Medicare

Section 3 provides a review of Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) that includes Medicare benefits, costs and some terminology to know.

Section 4: Medicare Advantage Plans & Other Options

This is where you’ll find information about Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans such as what they are, how they work, the different types of Medicare health plans and how and when you can enroll. 

Section 5: Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)

This section explains what Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are and how they work. The guidebook includes a Medicare Supplement plan comparison chart that shows what benefits are offered by each of the 10 different types of standardized Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. You’ll also learn about Medigap enrollment and other need-to-know information. 

Section 6: Medicare Drug Coverage (Part D)

There’s a lot to know about Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, and this section is where you’ll find information about how these plans work, how to join or switch plans, 2021 Part D costs, late enrollment penalties, the types of drugs that are covered and more. 

Section 7: Get Help Paying Your Health & Drug Costs

Section 7 of the handbook covers some of the ways you can receive financial assistance for certain Medicare costs. This includes information about eligibility and enrollment for various types of Medicare assistance programs and Medicaid

Section 8: Know Your Rights & Protect Yourself From Fraud

Medicare beneficiaries are protected by certain rights, and this section of the handbook covers your Medicare rights, how to file a Medicare appeal, how to access your personal health information, how to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft and more. 

Section 9: Get More Information 

Section 9 is a resource center complete with contact information, other websites to reference, information about helpful Medicare tools and a complete directory of State Health Insurance Assistance Programs

Section 10: Definitions

Medicare has a lot of terms and definitions, and section 10 of the handbook serves as a glossary for these terms. 

What’s Not Included in Medicare & You 2021

This handbook does not include any specific plan information for Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans. If you are already enrolled in one of these plans, you will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) in the mail each fall that details any plan changes for the upcoming year. 

If you’re not enrolled in one of these private Medicare plans, you may contact an insurance carrier or a licensed insurance agent to gather information about the plans that are available where you live.

If there is anything in the Medicare & You 2021 handbook that you have questions about, you can call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).