Applying for Medicare or Medicare Advantage can get confusing, especially for first-timers. While websites can be useful tools, reading through the plethora of information about available plans can be like walking through a maze.
But there’s no need to fear. If you're feeling doubtful about reaching Medicare customer service, it's important to know that real life, in-person help is available—and much of it is free of cost.
Make an appointment at your local SSA office.
Ground zero for getting started on your Medicare journey is your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, where you can sign up for Part A and Part B in person. Be sure to make an appointment over the phone first. To find your local office, you can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 on weekdays from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M. or use the office locator on the official SSA website.
For free help navigating the system, go to your local SHIP.
Your local state health insurance assistance program, or SHIP, provides free in-person counseling to Medicare recipients and their caregivers. A SHIP counselor can help you navigate anything from your rights as a Medicare recipient to your expected out-of-pocket expenses. Whether you need a specific plan for a chronic illness or a special enrollment period because of a big move, your SHIP counselor can help.
To find your local office, call 1-877-839-2675 or visit the official state health insurance assistance programs national network website.
For general questions, make the call.
Medicare’s information line, 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), can answer any initial questions you might have about your insurance options. After providing some information, a telephone agent can point you in the right direction. Your telephone agent might even be able to sign you up for your desired Medicare plan.
For Medicare Advantage, try an insurance provider.
If you’re curious about Medicare Advantage and its many plans, calling a provider can be a way to clarify issues like whether your doctor is in-network or whether coverage is available for particular conditions.