Medicare - who do I call?
August 1, 2020
Those who are approaching Medicare eligibility, or have Medicare, frequently have many questions - about how Medicare coverage works, enrollment options and costs, and many others. You may ask yourself: “Who do I call?” for answers.
The good news is that there are numerous resources out there to assist Medicare beneficiaries with questions or concerns and there is often more than one correct resource. Listed here are some of the agencies that can supply expert knowledge and assistance regarding Medicare.
1-800-Medicare is a great resource if you have Medicare Part A and/or Part B. This is the national hotline for Medicare. They can answer questions about your eligibility, what Medicare benefits you currently have, your current premium payment status, and billing concerns. You can order a new Medicare card and an entitlement letter.
When you call, be prepared to provide your Medicare beneficiary ID number (found on your red, white and blue Medicare card) or your Social Security number, date of birth, full name, and current address to confirm your identity. 1-800 Medicare is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week including some federal holidays. Their phone number is 1-800-633-4227. TTY/TTD users can call –877-486-2048.
Medicare.gov is the national website for Medicare. This site is jam-packed with valuable information. You can search for coverage information to determine if Medicare covers a particular service or product. You can perform a search to locate Medicare providers such as a Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, dialysis centers, general practitioners as well as specialists. At this site you can access the Medicare Drug Finder tool to assist you in choosing a Medicare Part D prescription plan.
The site provides links to numerous helpful forms available such as the Medicare Easy Pay application, which allows you to set up a monthly electronic funds transfer from your bank account to pay your monthly premium if you are not receiving a monthly Social Security benefit.
If you would like to authorize another person to assist you as your representative with Medicare issues, you can access form CMS-10106, “Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information”. Information about claims and appeals is offered. You can also establish your own, confidential account with http://www.mymedicare.gov, which gives you access to your processed claims information, tracks your prescription drug coverage and has many other features.
Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program in Alaska, is run by the State of Alaska Medicare Information Office. This program educates Medicare beneficiaries, their family and caregivers about how to protect themselves from Medicare errors, abuse and fraud – known as Medicare waste.
The SMP provides information on how to detect waste and to report it. These counselors can investigate confusing and/or suspicious Medicare billings, help resolve errors and report abuse and fraud to the National Senior Medicare Patrol, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other pertinent agencies. Their toll-free number in Alaska is 1-800-478-6065 or at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, 907-770-2070 or 907-770-2027.
State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) in Alaska is also administered by the Medicare Information Office. Anchorage is fortunate enough to have two offices. The State of Alaska Medicare Information Office (MIO) runs a call center with an in-state toll-free number that provides Medicare counseling. There is also a Medicare Information Office housed at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, which is a grantee of the State of Alaska MIO. Medicare counselors across the state can aid you in understanding Medicare eligibility, application method choices, and enrollment periods. If you have difficulty comprehending the premium bills you receive, they can clarify the payment options available. They can assist you in choosing a prescription drug plan and walk you through the process of choosing a supplemental Medicare (Medigap) plan — plans which help pick up the costs that Medicare Part A & Part B leave behind.
Training in reading your Medicare Summary Notices and help with investigating billing concerns is also available.
Their Anchorage phone number is 907-269-3680 and toll-free statewide in Alaska: 1-800-478-6065.
If you are having trouble paying for your Medicare Premiums, the Medicare Information Office can screen you for assistance programs such as the Low Income Subsidy (LIS), also known as the Extra Help program, which helps pay for Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), and the Medicare Savings Plan (MSP), which helps pay your Part A and/or Part B premiums. If you are found eligible, they can provide assistance with the application and coordination of these programs. These offices are not currently open to the public, but they can provide counseling over the phone or via email. Their toll-free in Alaska number is 1-800-478-6065 or at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center 907-770-2070 or 907-770-2027. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the agency that handles enrollment and disenrollment for Medicare Part A and B. Many of their services are available online at http://www.ssa.gov. At their website you can apply for Medicare if you are in your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), check the status of a submitted application, request a new Medicare Card, and update your address for both Social Security and Medicare. During COVID 19, because their offices are closed to in-person appointments, there is also an online site where you can apply for Part B if you are in a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and already have Part A. There are many other retirement related services available. They, can be reached by phone at 1-800-772-1213 and are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in all time zones.
As you can see, there is a great deal of help out there for Medicare beneficiaries. If you are unsure of whom to contact, start with the Medicare Information Office and they can either provide the assistance needed or steer you to the appropriate resource.
Nila Morgan is a Certified Medicare Counselor who works at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center.