If you need help finding the right Medicare plan for your situation, call 2-1-1 to be connected to a Maryland SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) office that can help. They are located throughout Maryland and in Baltimore City, and can offer free, confidential, and unbiased counseling. You can also find the SHIP offices here.

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).

Types of Medicare Coverage

There are three types of Medicare coverage - Part A through Part D. It can be confusing to navigate what each one offers, costs and to find the best plan. If you need help, call 2-1-1 and we'll connect you to a local SHIP office that can help. You can also reach out to Maryland SHIP directly. Find an office near you.

Part A

It covers expenses like inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation, hospice care and some home health care services.

To determine if you have Part A coverage, look at your Medicare card. If you have Part A, you will see “HOSPITAL (PART A)” printed on your card.

Most people don’t have to pay for Part A. It's based on your Medicare-covered employment, which the Social Security Administration determines.

Part B

This is medical Insurance, which helps cover medically necessary services like doctor visits, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, certain home health services, and other medical care not covered by Part A. Part B also covers some preventive services.

Most people pay monthly for Part B. In 2024, the standard premium is $174.70. There is also an annual deductible, which is $240. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs the program, explains the premiums you might expect to pay in 2024.

Part C

Medicare Advantage is like an HMO or PPO. Private companies approved by Medicare offer Part C coverage.

These plans may offer extra coverage, including vision, hearing, dental and health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).

Part D

This plan 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.

Person on Medicare at the doctor

Medicare Open Enrollment

Every year, recipients should review their Medicare coverage and compare plans during the specified open enrollment in the fall.

You can join a new Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D prescription drug plan, switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, or switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare (with or without a Part D plan).

You can also get a Medigap plan (Medicare Supplement) in Maryland.

How to review a Medicare plan

Ask yourself these questions about your Medicare Advantage Plan:

  • How much are the premiums each month, if any?
  • How much are the deductible and co-insurance/copay for the services I need?
  • What is the annual out-of-pocket cost?
  • What is the plan’s service area?
  • Are my doctors and hospitals in network?
  • What rules must I follow to access health care services and my prescription medications?
  • Does the plan cover additional health care benefits that are not covered by Original Medicare?
  • What is the plan’s star rating?
  • Will this plan affect the additional coverage that I have?

Compare your plan to others, estimate out-of-pocket costs and look at the star system to understand the plan’s rating for quality and performance.

Special Enrollment Periods

In addition to open enrollment, there are special enrollment periods depending on personal circumstances. You will qualify to enroll in Medicare if:

  • You move.
  • You’re eligible for Medicaid.
  • You qualify for Extra Help with Medicare drug costs.
  • You’re getting care at an institution such as a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital.
  • You want to switch to a plan with a 5-star overall quality rating.

Maryland SHIP: Get Help Finding the Right Plan

Trained volunteers with the Maryland State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can help you decide which Medicare plan to choose for your personal health needs. They'll provide free counseling that's informative and helpful.

SHIP counselors 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 and Medicare fraud and abuse.

Medicare benificiary talking on the phone with SHIP

Contact Maryland SHIP

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 – 301-600-1234
  • 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 Ext. 1064
  • 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
  • ​Wicomico County – 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.

Get Help With Other Medical Expenses

While Medicare can help cover medical expenses, you may have other unexpected costs. 211 can help connect you to other health care and medical resources that can help. You can explore other medical topics below to get connected to resources near you.

You can also call 2-1-1 any time of day or night to talk with a trained professional who can help you find the help you need to cover medical expenses and any other assistance you might need.

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