For 2020 coverage, open enrollment for Medicare will run from October 15, 2019, to December 7, 2019. During the annual enrollment period you can sign up or make changes to your existing coverage.

If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If you’re turning 65 in the next three months, and not already getting benefits from Social Security, you need to sign up to get Medicare benefits.

For those new to Medicare it can be intimidating. Medicare and You. The Official U.S. Government Medicare Handbook is a 120-page attempt at explaining the program. A downloadable PDF is available here:

Breaking it Down by Parts

Medicare coverage is broken up into parts. Part A pertains to inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, as well as home health care under certain conditions.

Part B refers to benefits that help cover services from doctors, certain home health care services, medical equipment, and preventative services.

Part D involves prescription drug coverage.

Original Medicare combines Parts A and B. You will need to join a separate Part D plan. Also, while you have the freedom to go to any doctor that accepts Medicare, you may wish to purchase a supplemental plan to cover higher out-of-pocket costs.

Medicare Advantage, or Part C, bundles Parts A, B, and usually D. Deductibles and coinsurance costs are usually lower, and other services such as hearing and dental may be covered, but you’ll need to use doctors who are in the plan’s network.

Visit to gather information and to enroll.