Medicare and Continuing Care

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 Medicare Part A, visit to view or print copies of "Your Medicare Benefits" or "Medicare & You." (Under "Forms,help & Resources” and select “Publications”)

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 "Forms, Help, & Resources " select "Your State under “Fine someone to talk to” tab."

To sign up for Medicare Part B, visit and click on “Sign UP/Change plans” tab and select “Apply for Medicare online or 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

(Watch the video about deciding whether to sign up for Medicare Part B. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)