What is Medicare?
Medicare is a government health insurance program for:
- People 65 or older
- People under 65 with certain disabilities
- People of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant
If you’re over 65 (or turning 65 in the next three months) and you do not already receive Social Security benefits, you can sign up for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). Enrollment is not automatic.
You can contact your local Social Security office or Medicare for enrollment questions or apply online. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Part A – Hospital insurance that helps pay for things like inpatient hospital care, hospice care and some home health care. Most people don’t have to pay for Part A. To find out if you have Part A coverage, look on your red, white, and blue Medicare card. If you have Part A, “HOSPITAL (PART A)” is printed on your card.
Part B – Medical Insurance helps cover medically-necessary services like doctor visits, outpatient care, medical equipment, home health services, and other medical care. Part B also covers some preventive services. Most people pay monthly for Part B.
Part C – Medicare Advantage is like an HMO or PPO. It is offered by private companies approved by Medicare. These plans may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).
Part D – offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare. To get Medicare prescription drug coverage, you must join a plan run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered. Look for a Part D prescription plan.
Medicare open enrollment
Every year, recipients should review their Medicare coverage during the specified open enrollment in the fall. Trained and volunteer counselors offer free support to guide Medicare beneficiaries through open enrollment. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor can help you understand costs and coverage, compare options, enroll or change plans and fix billing errors or issues.
Local SHIP counselors can help with all parts of Medicare:
- Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance
- Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance
- Medicare Part C: Advantage Plans
- Medicare Part D: Prescription Drug Plans
In addition, they can help with financial assistance for low-income beneficiaries, Medicare fraud and abuse and billing issues.
Find a local SHIP counselor in your county:
- Allegany County – 301-783-1710
- Anne Arundel County – 410-222-4257
- Baltimore City – 410-396-2273
- Baltimore County – 410-887-2059
- Calvert County – 410-535-4606
- Carroll County – 410-386-3800
- Caroline County – 410-479-2535
- Cecil County – 410-996-8174
- Charles County – 301-934-9305
- Dorchester County – 410-376-3662
- Frederick County – 301-600-1605
- Garrett County – 301-334-9431
- Harford County – 410-638-3025
- Howard County – 410-313-7392
- Kent County – 410-778-2564
- Montgomery County – 301-255-4250
- Prince George’s County – 301-265-8471
- St. Mary’s County – 301-475-4200
- Somerset County – 410-742-0505
- Talbot County – 301-475-4200 Ext. 231
- Queen Anne’s County – 410-758-0848 Option 3
- Washington County – 301-790-0275
- WicomicoCounty – 410-742-0505
- Worcester County – 410-742-0505
You can also learn more about the SHIP program and open enrollment from the Maryland Department of Aging.