CMS.gov and How to Get Information About Medicare

Fact Checked
Contributing expert: Ron Elledge, Medicare consultant
Published: 6/2/2021

If you’re searching for information about Medicare, CMS.gov is your best source. There are many facets to Medicare rules, regulations, timing, election periods and enrollment penalties. Additionally, massive competition among carriers to capture the Medicare recipient’s business can lead to over-simplified or misleading advertising. It can be difficult to get the answers you need to make the best decisions.


ron headshot
Ron Elledge
Medicare Consultant and Author
Ron Elledge
Medicare Consultant and Author

Ron Elledge is a seasoned Medicare consultant and author of “Medicare Made Easy.” As a Medicare expert, he regularly consults beneficiaries on Medicare rules, regulations, and strategies.

Where to Get Accurate Medicare Information

Two important government websites cover the entire body of Medicare rules, regulations, benefits, and current programs: CMS.gov and Medicare.gov.

  • CMS.gov will provide general information for Medicare and Medicaid, regulations, statistics, and minutia. Here you will find manuals, coverage databases, fact papers, forms, and operations details.
  • Medicare.gov is the go-to site for Medicare enrollment and benefits information. Here you can research current plans offered in your area. You can also investigate doctors’ networks, compare medication costs, view plan specifics, and utilize enrollment portals.

These two sites will provide you with enough information to ask questions and understand the answers you receive when talking with a Medicare representative on the phone. You may even find enough information to avoid the phone call altogether.

CMS.gov

CMS.gov is the official website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. When you visit the CMS.gov website, you will see tabs across the top representing the major areas of information contained on the site. The Medicare tab will open a page of drop-down menus covering often-searched Medicare subjects from A to Z. If one of these topics fits your questions, you can click on it to read more. If not, or if you aren’t sure, you can use the search bar in the upper right corner.

One drawback to the search bar on the CMS website is that it searches the entire content of information offered by CMS and sometimes makes it a challenge when looking for Medicare-specific information. Be sure to include “Medicare” in your search query and make sure the result pages you read are Medicare specific.

Medicare.gov

Medicare.gov is the official U.S. government site for Medicare. It’s the best place to investigate your options for specific Medicare plans available in your area. The motto of Medicare.gov is to get key Medicare information fast. Here you can research and apply for Medicare plans, get specific Medicare plan information, availability, costs, and find local help with information and enrollment.

You have the option of creating a personal account on Medicare.gov or remaining anonymous while researching. Creating an account will allow you to track your plan enrollment, track and review your claims, print enrollment cards, find providers, and even pay premiums if required. These are all specific to your Medicare enrollment.

For simply researching and comparing available plan information, checking drug coverage, finding doctor networks, or enrolling in a plan, click on the tab Find Plans. This will take you to the Medicare Plan Finder.

After choosing whether to Log in, Create an Account, or Continue without logging in, you enter the research and comparison site for Medicare plans. Entering without logging in enables you to research and compare plans anywhere in the US. After a few general questions, you are transported to a list of all the specific options available for the year and area you have chosen.

Additional Resources

With the information provided on CMS.gov and Medicare.gov, you should be able to find most if not all of the information you need for Medicare decisions. For a deeper understanding or further clarity, the following resources may be helpful:

Medicare.gov – Live Chat

Medicare.gov Live Chat is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for some federal holidays.

Or call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

If you have called 1-800-Medicare but still need help, ask the 1-800-MEDICARE representative to send your question or complaint to the Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. The Ombudsman staff helps make sure that your questions or complaints are resolved.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIPs):

SHIPs offer local, personalized counseling to people with Medicare and their families. They provide free information and counseling to help you with your Medicare questions. This includes your benefits, coverage, premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. They will help you find information regarding the filing of claims, complaints (grievances). They will also help with appeals, joining or leaving a Medicare Advantage Plan, any other Medicare health plan, or Medicare Part D Drug Plans. You can locate information for your local SHIP office here.

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