A toll-free Medicare Insurance helpline, which is designed to help Medicare beneficiaries receive education about Medicare and select a health plan that fits their needs and budget, while also retaining their existing hospital and doctors has been launched in an effort to help area residents.

The free helpline connects callers with licensed agents who can assist in comparing Medicare Advantage, Supplement and Prescription plans. The helpline was launched by Carroll County Memorial Hospital in conjunction with MedicareCompareUSA, the nation's leading company in helping Medicare beneficiaries to compare and enroll in Medicare plans accepted by their health care providers. Through this helpline, it will be easier for Medicare beneficiaries to find a plan that is accepted by Carroll County Memorial Hospital, assuring the continuity of care and preserving the trusted bond built up over time with their providers.

The annual election period starts Oct.15 and runs through Dec.7. A representative will be onsite Oct.18, Nov. 11 and Dec.4 to meet with patients interested in learning more about their Medicare options.

Consumers can access the helpline through a link on the hospital's website http://www.carrollcountyhospital.org/patients/medicare or by calling the helpline directly at 855-210-2448.

The helpline is serviced by MedicareCompareUSA, an independent insurance agency that is not affiliated with the federal Medicare program.