Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

Frequently Asked Questions

3. What is Medicare Part B and what does it cover?

Medicare Part B is medical insurance. It helps cover medical services such as doctor's services, outpatient care and other medical services that Part A doesn't cover. Part B also covers some preventive services, such as flu shots and diabetes screening, to help you maintain your health and to keep certain illnesses from getting worse.

Enrollment in Part B is optional, and most people who choose it must pay a monthly fee, or premium. There may be a late enrollment penalty for Part B if the person doesn't join when he or she is first eligible.

For important information about Part B, visit to view or print copies of "Your Medicare Benefits" or "Medicare & You." (Under "Search Tools," select "Find a Medicare Publication.")

You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) which gives free health insurance counseling and guidance to people with Medicare -- or to family and friends who have authorization to help someone with Medicare questions. To get the most up-to-date telephone numbers, call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) or visit (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.) Under "Search Tools," select "Find Helpful Phone Numbers and Websites."

To sign up for Medicare Part B, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. If you are getting benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, call your local RRB office or 1-800-808-0772.