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Section 5: ready to enroll 
 

How to Get Enrollment Help

These resources provide one-on-one counseling, information about plans near you and more

 

ESTIMATED READ TIME: 2 MINUTES

IN THIS ARTICLE

 

• State Health Insurance Assistance Programs

• The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

• Social Security Administration

• Medicare Rights Center

• State insurance departments

  

If you need help enrolling in Medicare or making decisions about your coverage, several national and state resources can provide assistance.

 

STATE HEALTH INSURANCE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS (SHIP)

 

SHIP centers are available in every state, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


About 16,000 SHIP counselors throughout the country provide free one-on-one counseling, seminars and outreach programs, especially during the Oct. 15–Dec. 7 annual open enrollment season. They can answer questions over the phone, in person or online.
 

States use different names for these programs, such as the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) in California and Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) in Florida.


To find a SHIP in your area, visit shiphelp.org or call 877-839-2675.
 

screenshot of a states health insurance enrollment program web page with the ship locator button circled in red

This federal agency, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, runs the Medicare program. Its website offers information about how Medicare works, what it covers, when to enroll and how to buy private insurance policies that can fill in coverage gaps.
 

The Medicare website can tell you how original Medicare works. And its Medicare plan finder is the best way to learn about the Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans available in your area.
 

If you have questions about Medicare rules, coverage and claims, call Medicare’s help line at 800-633-4227 or use the Live Chat function available by clicking Talk to Someone | Chat Now. Information is available in dozens of languages, including English and Spanish. If you speak a language that is not available, ask for an interpreter.
 

The Medicare & You handbook, updated annually, explains what Medicare covers, how it works, when you need to sign up and any changes to the rules.
 

screenshot of Medicare.gov assistance webpage with talk to someone circled in red

This independent federal agency handles Medicare enrollment. It can be a helpful source of information about signing up, applying for the Part D prescription drug Extra Help program and understanding Medicare’s high-income premium surcharges.


Its national toll-free phone number is 800-772-1213, and you can also look up the address and phone number of your local Social Security office.
 

screenshot of social security office locator with area where you enter your zip code circled in red

This nonprofit has been helping people navigate Medicare for more than 30 years.
 

Counselors can answer questions about Medicare rules, deadlines, enrollment, choices and claims. They are available through the organization’s national helpline at 800-333-4114.


Visit MedicareInteractive.org for more information about Medicare.


STATE INSURANCE DEPARTMENTS
 

Individual states’ insurance departments can give you information about supplemental Medigap policies in your area. Visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and look for your state in the Insurance Departments drop-down menu.
 

A web page will open in a new tab that gives information about the leader of the state’s department. At the bottom of the listing is a button that links to a list of state insurance officials. In the right column is a Visit Website button.
 

National Association of Insurance Commissioners information page


The state websites can tell you which insurers offer Medigap policies and any special rules they might have. Most state insurance departments list the premiums for each insurer’s Medigap policies and update them annually.
 

How to Buy a Medigap Policy