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You Can Change Your Medicare Coverage Once a Year

If you have Medicare coverage, now is the time to:

  1. Review your Medicare plan for its coverage, cost, convenience, and customer service.
  2. Compare your current plans with new Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans for added benefits to you.
  3. Decide if a change will improve your coverage. If not, keep your current coverage and do nothing.
  4. Call the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free, unbiased information and support.  

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Event Topic: What You Need to Know for Medicare Open Enrollment​

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5 Things to Do During Medicare Open Enrollment 

  1. Review your plan notice. Be sure to read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your "Annual Notice of Change" letter. Look at your plan's information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in-network. 

  2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Is your new medication covered by your current plan? Does another plan offer the same value at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change. 

  3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for your Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums, your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs. To do this, visit or make an appointment with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor.

  4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting in October, you can use Medicare’s plan finder tool at to see what other plans are offered in your area. A new plan may: cost less, cover your specific drugs, include providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy. If you find that your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare. 

  5. Check your plan’s star rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder has been updated with the current Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a 1 to 5-star scale, with 1 star representing poor performance and 5 stars representing excellent performance. Use the Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.
    Help is available. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers free, unbiased support in all 23 counties and Baltimore City with in-person and telephone assistance. Volunteer opportunities are also available. For more information about SHIP, select a category below. 

SHIP FAQ and Resources  

Why Choose SHIP?


​The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) meets the most universal needs of Medicare beneficiaries. Needs such as understanding their health insurance benefits, bills, and rights. Trained staff and volunteer counselors in all 23 counties and Baltimore City provide free, in-person and telephone assistance. 

Topics Covered by SHIP


​Trained counselors can provide assistance with:

  • Medicare Part A: Hosptial Insurance
  • Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance
  • Medicare Part C: Advantage Plans
  • Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plans)
  • Financial Assistance for Low-Income Beneficiaries
  • Billing Issues, Appeals, Denials, and Grievances
  • Medicare Fraud and Abuse
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Free Community Presentations

Volunteer Opportunities

​For some, it offers a chance to give something back to their community. For others, it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. See some of our SHIP volunteer stories under the "Video Library" tab.


State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

Drop-In Articles

Video Library