Medicare Counseling - Provided by SHIP

Phone Number 410-313-7392


Medicare Part C and D Open Enrollment

October 15 – December 7


There’s a New Medicare Plan Finder

The New Medicare Plan Finder was launched on October 1st with a new look.  The redesign will require you to take a few steps to in order to perform a plan review for 2020.  If you are planning to make an appointment with SHIP to help you shop for a new plan, taking the following steps before your scheduled meeting will allow us more time to look at the plan details.  If you are not comfortable with computers, and don’t have anyone who can help you, don’t worry – SHIP will help.


  1. Set up your MyMedicare account

The change to the plan finder requires beneficiaries that wish to perform a personalized search will have to create a MyMedicare account to access the new Plan Finder.  A personalized search means that your drug list and plan information will link to your MyMediare account.

You don’t have to have an email address to set up an account.You will need the same information you needed in the old Plan finder to create your account: your last name, Medicare number, date of birth, zip code, and either your Part A or Part B effective date.  Click here to set up your account now!

If you already have an account, just bring your username and password to your appointment with SHIP.  Forgot your account login and/or password?  You can instantly retrieve your information at by answering the security question you selected when you created the account. We recommend logging in if it’s been awhile to make sure you can access your information.

  1. What if I don’t want to use MyMedicare to compare plans

If you do not wish to set up a MyMedicare account, you can perform an anonymous drug review by using the “general search” option.  If you do not have a Medicare number yet, as many who are researching options before their coverage begins, you will have to perform a general search.

In the old Plan Finder, you would be given a drug list id and password when using the general search option so that you may retrieve the list in the future without using personal information.  Drug list ids are not compatible with the new Plan Finder. This means that performing a general search will require you to reenter your drugs each time you want to perform a plan comparison.

The other thing to consider when choosing to use the general search option, instead of MyMedicare, is this that if you receive Extra Help, a federal subsidy that helps with drug plan costs, you will have to know the level of subsidy you are receiving and manually enter that information into the new Plan Finder to get accurate pricing.  A personalized search through your MyMedicare account will automatically factor in the subsidy and be reflected in plan costs.

  1. Even if you use MyMedicare you will have to reenter your drugs this year

Medicare could not transfer drug lists from the old Plan Finder to the new version. Even if you log on with your MyMedicare account, you will have to reenter your drugs so that they will be there going forward. The good news is that if you are currently in a drug plan and have a MyMedicare account, you will see a list of prescriptions that you have had filled to select from to create your new drug list.  You just have to enter the quantity and frequency for each drug.

If you are coming to SHIP for an appointment, creating your drug list in advance will help us save time for the actual drug plan comparison. If you can’t do it yourself, SHIP will help – just give us a heads up if you take a lot of prescriptions to help us try to schedule you appropriately.


Shopping for a Medicare Advantage Plan

Let us know if you are in a Medicare Advantage plan or are considering switching to a Medicare Advantage plan. Our Part D Specialists are not trained on Medicare Advantage plans and we want to ensure you get the information you need.

It’s also helpful to ask your providers what “Medicare Advantage Plans” they accept prior to your appointment to help focus on plans that will work for you.


Scheduling an appointment with SHIP for Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment is the busiest time of year for SHIP and as you can imagine, we see over half our volume during this time window. Because of our volume, we are unable to answer our phones live or take walk-in requests for appointments or inquiries. When you leave us a message, please know we make multiple attempts to reach you.

When scheduling an appointment, please let us know if the appointment is for you alone or two people.  Even if you are coming alone for you and a spouse, we want to ensure we schedule enough time for two plan reviews.


Please be on time for your appointment

If you are coming to see us at the Patuxent Woods location, you should plan on arriving 15 minutes early as you will be required to sign in at the reception desk.  You will have your picture taken for your visitor’s badge.

As we are unable to answer calls live because of our call volume, it’s important to get directions in advance. Click here for directions to all our appointment locations.

Do you have retiree coverage?

If you have retiree drug coverage and want to explore other drug plan options, SHIP can help.SHIP cannot, however, speak to any details pertaining to coverage offered by current or former employers. Please contact your benefits administrator for more information about your coverage.

Medicare Part C and D Open Enrollment does not apply to Medigaps

Medicare Supplemental policies, also known as medigaps, do not have an enrollment period unless you are new to Medicare or have a guaranteed issue right, which is based on specific circumstances. You are free to shop around for a new plan any time of year but know you will likely be subject to medical underwriting.

Because of the time sensitivity of Open Enrollment, SHIP is unable to help you with medigaps, unless you are new to Medicare, which is also time sensitive.  We are more than happy to help explain how you can shop for a new plan, and things to consider, starting January.

There are resources available to you if you wish to shop for a new supplemental policy on your own.  Medicare’s Choosing a Medigap Policy 2019 is a great guide to understanding how supplement works and the many rules.  The Maryland Insurance Administration also published a semi-annual premium guide for all the Medigap carriers in our state that lists policies and plans offered by each company.  This guide is available online as a pdf or you can request a copy be mailed to you by calling 410-468-2000 or 800-492-6116. 

Another option to consider is using the services of an insurance broker.  Ask around for a referral from friends or family, SHIP does not have a list of brokers, to find a reliable broker.  Keep in mind that brokers are working for a commission but they also probably familiar with the different underwriting policies and that could work to your advantage.



Medicare’s phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except Federal holidays).  Medicare is able to answer any of your questions, and perform a drug review, by phone from the convenience of your home.  Just call 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227.