Appendix A

Sources of Help and Information

Often, the help you’re looking for to deal with Medicare issues is only a toll-free phone number or a website away. In this appendix, I provide contact information for government help lines and online resources, independent organizations that offer direct help or ways to save money, advocacy organizations that work on behalf of people on Medicare, and sources you can look to for updated Medicare information. Throughout, I note special help provided for people whose first language is something other than English.

Government Help Lines and Websites

The go-to sources for help provided by federal and state governments are the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), and the Eldercare Locator.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CMS is the federal agency that runs Medicare (under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and oversees Medicaid in partnership with the states. It provides updated information and direct help to consumers in English and Spanish in the following ways:

  • The Medicare & You handbook goes out to everyone on Medicare every September (or read it online at This basic overview of Medicare services includes brief details of the Medicare Advantage health plans and the stand-alone Part D drug plans that will be available in your area for the following ...

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