Medicare was established as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 to provide health insurance benefits to those 65 and older or to those who may qualify because of other special needs. Medicare is the largest health insurance program in the country and covers more than 40 million Americans.
Below you will find explanations for different aspects of Medicare. Medicare.gov also offers information about how to get started with Medicare, managing your health and drug plans, finding doctors and hospitals, and signing up for MyMedicare.gov, which is a free, secure online service for accessing information about your Medicare benefits and services.
If you need further assistance with a Medicare issue, please fill out the online form at the bottom of this page. You will then be prompted to print a privacy release, which you must sign and return to the Dallas office so a caseworker may assist you.
If your issue is time-sensitive, please call the Dallas office at 972-239-1310.
Medicare Part A - Hospital Insurance
Medicare Part A covers inpatient care in hospitals, critical access hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. It also covers hospice care and some home health care. There are certain conditions that must be met.
Most people do not have to pay a monthly payment, called a premium, for Part A because they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while employed. If you did not pay a monthly payment while employed and are age 65 or older, you may still be able to buy Part A. Please contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 for information about buying Part A.
Enrollment in Medicare: You may apply three months before or after your 65th birthday. Please note that delaying enrollment past your birthday will delay the effective date of your coverage.
You can enroll in a plan and get more information regarding the General Enrollment and Special Enrollment periods by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or through Medicare.gov.
Medicare Part B - Medical Insurance
Medicare Part B covers doctor’s visits, outpatient care, home health services, and other medical services. Part B also covers some preventive services such as flu shots, glaucoma tests, and screenings for breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
Enrollment in Medicare Part B: The General Enrollment Period is from January 1 through March 31 each year. If you did not sign up for Medicare Part B when you first became eligible, you may sign up during this period. You may sign up for Medicare Part B at your local SSA office.
If you did not enroll in Part B when you became eligible because you or your spouse were still employed and had group health coverage through your or your spouse’s employer or union, you can sign up for Part B during a special enrollment period.
You may sign up:
- Anytime you are still covered by the employer or union group health plan through your or your spouse’s current or active employment; or
- During the eight months following the month that the employer or union group plan coverage ends or when the employment ends (whichever is first).
If you do not enroll during this timeframe, you may be assessed a 10 percent surcharge for each year you were eligible but did not enroll.
Medicare Part C - Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage Plans, or Medicare Part C, are insurance plans offered by private companies approved by Medicare.
If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, the plan will provide all of your Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).
Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care every month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. These companies must follow rules set by Medicare. However, each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs and have different rules for how you obtain services (like whether you need a referral to see a specialist or if you have to go to only doctors, facilities, or suppliers that belong to the plan for non-emergency or non-urgent care). These rules can change each year.
For more information, you may contact the Health Information Counseling & Advocacy Program of Texas (HICAP) at 1-800-252-3439.
Medicare Part D - Prescription Drug Insurance
Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage available to everyone with Medicare, including those who are covered by Part A and/or Part B.
Enrollment in Medicare Part D: As with Part B, individuals may enroll three months before or after their 65th birthday or on their first day of Medicare eligibility. Additionally, open season is from November 15 to December 31 of each year. During this time, beneficiaries who did not sign up for the benefit during their initial period may enroll and already enrolled individuals can change their plans.
Medicare beneficiaries who do not enroll in Part D when they first become eligible will face a one percent-per-month premium surcharge and will not be able to enroll until the yearly Annual Coordinated Election Period, between November 15 and December 15 of each year.
If you are interested in which Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are available in Texas, please visit Medicare.gov.
Creditable Coverage: Individuals with prescription drug coverage through an employer or retiree plan or creditable coverage, i.e. coverage equivalent to or better than the standard Part D benefit, may choose not to enroll. If you have prescription coverage and are Medicare eligible, you should have received a notice from your plan’s administrator explaining how current coverage compares to Part D and whether you need to enroll. If your coverage is eliminated, you will be able to enroll in Part D during a 63-day special enrollment period, starting the day coverage ends.
Individuals on both Medicaid and Medicare: Individuals receiving both Medicaid and Medicare coverage, also known as dual eligible beneficiaries, were automatically enrolled in a prescription drug plan (Part D). However, you are able to enroll in a different plan if the plan you were assigned does not cover your particular prescriptions.
Additional Medicare Resources
Lost or Stolen Medicare Card: If your Medicare card is lost or stolen, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, or apply through the Social Security website. When using the website, select “Medicare” from the tabs across the top and then click on “Replace Your Lost, Stolen or Damaged Medicare Card” and you will be directed on how to apply for a new Medicare card.
Railroad Retirees: If you are a railroad retiree and are trying to obtain Medicare benefits, you will need to contact the Railroad Retirement Board Helpline at 1-800-808-0772, or visit the Railroad Retirement Board website.
Information on Medicare.gov:
- Apply online for Medicare
- Learn about the free “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam appointment
- Sign up for MyMedicare.gov
- Get a copy of Medicare and You Handbook
- Review and compare plans during open enrollment season
- Choose and join a Medicare Drug Plan (Part D)
- Speak with a Medicare representative 24 hours a day including weekends in both English and Spanish at 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227.
MyMedicare.gov is a free, secure online service where you can access your personal Medicare information 24/7.
- Review your claim information
- View plan enrollment information
- Create an “On the Go” report with information you can share with your healthcare providers
Health Information Counseling & Advocacy Program of Texas:
- Provides information about Medicare and Medicaid eligibility, program benefits, and appeal rights and assistance with completing Medicare and supplementary claim forms.
- Explains Medicare supplement insurance policy benefits, exclusions and coverage language, the pros and cons of health maintenance organization (HMO) memberships, and long-term care options.
Social Security Administration: 1–800-772-1213
- Call for information about buying Part A insurance
- Replace your lost, stolen or damaged Medicare card
- Apply for Extra Help with Medicare prescription plan costs