Independent Sources of Direct Help for Medicare

By Patricia Barry

Copyright © 2015 AARP

The following nonprofit organizations are very similar to the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) in offering free direct help to consumers on Medicare issues, but the groups here are national and sometimes provide more specialized services. They also act as advocates on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries in Congress and state legislatures.

The Medicare Rights Center

The Medicare Rights Center (MRC) is an independent, New York–based organization that provides information and free legal help on Medicare issues for beneficiaries throughout the country. It also acts as a consumer watchdog and advocate for improving Medicare benefits.

  • Consumer hot line: Call 800-333-4114 (toll-free), Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time to talk to a counselor about Medicare options, rights and protections, billing problems and payment denials, complaints, and appeals.

  • Medicare Interactive: Consult this free online primer that provides detailed answers to almost any question about Medicare.

  • Online information: Offers consumer guides and news on developments in Medicare, plus the option of getting free newsletters by email or joining online seminars on Medicare topics.

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health (NAHH) promotes the health and well-being of Hispanics through community programs that reach more than 14 million throughout the country. It provides written information and free counseling services in English and Spanish on health programs for consumers of all ages, including direct help on Part D drug coverage. Based in Washington, D.C., NAHH is also a leader in advocacy and research for Hispanic health.

  • The National Hispanic Family Health help line (Su Familia): Call 866-783-2645 toll-free, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, for free one-on-one counseling on any health issues. A popular part of this service is personal help with Part D, including finding a drug plan and applying for Extra Help.

  • Online information: The NAHH website has a wealth of health information and publications in English and Spanish. Click on the “Supporting You” tab on the home page and then select “Resources” on the drop-down menu.

The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging

The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) promotes the health and well-being of senior Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout the United States through advocacy, education, and direct help. It provides information on a range of aging issues and free counseling to help navigate Part D drug coverage.

  • Help lines: The NAPCA National Multilingual Help Line specifically deals with Part D issues, offering personal bilingual counseling on any aspect of the program: choosing a plan, enrolling, applying for Extra Help, and troubleshooting problems. Call toll-free 800-582-4218 (Chinese), 800-582-4259 (Korean), 800-582-4336 (Vietnamese), or 800-336-2722 (English).

  • Online information: The NAPCA website has info for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on health care and long-term care, employment, education, health reform, and many other issues. It also provides guides to Medicare in Chinese, Korean, Samoan, and Vietnamese.