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Medicare & You 2012 Handbook

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The Medicare & You 2012 Handbook from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contains important information about what's new, health plans, prescription drug plans, and rights and protections to help people with Medicare review their coverage options and prepare to enroll in a new plan if they choose. It is available in both English and Spanish downloads from the CMS website.

What's New and Important in 2012?

  • Open enrollment begins and ends earlier:  October 15 - December 7, 2011
  • New special enrollment period:  You can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan (Like an HMO or PPO) or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that has a 5-star rating at any time during the year.
  • Continued Help in the Prescription Drug Coverage Gap: If you reach the coverage gap in your Medicare prescription drug coverage, you will qualify for savings on brand-name and generic drugs.
  • Fighting Medicare Fraud:  Find out what Medicare is doing and what you can do to protect against fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • Help with Long-term Care Costs:  If you're still working, you may be able to enroll in a voluntary insurance program to help you pay for support services if you become disabled.
  • Better Coordination of Care:  Learn what Medicare and your health care providers are doing to better coordinate your health care and improve medical quality.
  • Ways to Manage Your Health Information Online:  Learn about the new "Blue Button" on that you can use to access your Medicare claims and other personal health information.

Each fall, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mails a geographic-specific version with drug and health plan comparison charts for a particular state or region to all households of people with Medicare. 

To ensure that you have access to the most comprehensive and recent information about plans in your area, please visit the Medicare Plan Finder web tool located on the CMS website. To get a free copy of a state-specific book, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Choose to get future handbooks electronically
Join the millions who have already signed up!  Save tax dollars and help the environment by signing up to get your future "Medicare & You" handbooks electronically (also called the "eHandbook").  Visit to create an account and request future eHandbooks.  They will send you an email next September when the new eHandbook is available.  You won't get a printed copy of your handbook in the mail if you choose to get it electronically.  

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Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Last Review:01/22/2013