SHIP, stands for Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program - Volunteers trained in issues relating to Medicare. FREE counseling is available to anyone needing information and/or assistance. There are two additional component of SHIP. The first is Money Saving Medicare Project (MSMP). Through this project eligible seniors and people with disabilities can obtain assistance in applying for the Medicare extra help programs that help pay Medicare premiums. The second is Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) that helps people with Medicare health care coverage identify and report Medicare fraud and abuse.
What is SHIP?
Nationally, SHIP actually stands for State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Programs.
Names of programs vary from state to state
- In Colorado, it is the Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program
- Nationwide, over 1,000 organizations help sponsor SHIP programs
- In our county, Mesa County RSVP, Inc. sponsors the SHIP program
- SHIP CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY
What is the Purpose of SHIP?
Funded by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and administered by each individual state, the program trains counselors working through regional organizations around the state.
- The SHIP program does not to recommend or endorse any insurance product or service.
- The purpose is to assist consumers in making informed insurance choices.
What Does the SHIP Program Do?
The Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program is a source of advice on the increasingly complex Medicare issue. SHIP programs provide:
- Information to Medicare beneficiaries and their families and/or caregivers
- Individual counseling and assistance
- Public education presentations about Medicare and related health insurance and Medicare fraud
- Printed materials about Medicare and health insurance issues
Additional SHIP Projects:
- Money Saving Medicare Project (MSMP) is a program that trains volunteers to help seniors and people with disabilities get enrolled in the Medicare "Extra Help" programs available that help pay Medicare premiums, etc.
- Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) helps people identify and report Medicare fraud and abuse to the Colorado Division of Insurance.
Who Are SHIP Counselors?
The SHIP counselors are trained volunteers. The counselor’s job is usually 5% listening and 95% research. Examples of how counselors can help consumers:
- Understand their Medicare benefits
- Help organize and understanding medical bills
- Identify gaps in Medicare coverage and the options to fill them
- Understand Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap)
- Understand how to evaluate Medicare Supplemental Insurance options
- Medicaid assistance for people on Medicare
- Help evaluate who is eligible for "Extra Help" (Low Income assistance)
- Understand Long-term care insurance options
- Help beneficiaries understand hospital and Medicare rights
- Assist in filing Medicare appeals
- Providing reference information and referral sources
Where Can SHIP Counselors Be Found?
- Consumers may contact their regional community program by calling toll-free 1-888-696-7213.
- The Mesa County affiliate can be accessed by calling 970-243-9839 (the local RSVP number).
The Counseling Process:
Once a phone call comes in to the RSVP office, one of the trained counselors on the RSVP staff will decide which counselor will handle the case. This is determined by the “specialty” needed to resolve a particular issue and which counselor is scheduled to handle incoming phone calls that day.
- The counselor will gather as much information as possible, research the issue(s), and make contact with appropriate department or insurance company.
- The counselor will then either counsel via telephone and/or in a face-to-face meeting.
- The goal is to present information to help consumers make informed decisions about their Medicare needs.
Types of Counseling do SHIP Volunteers Provide:
- Telephone counseling at scheduled times (243-9839). Available times will be published in the newspapers in the near future.
- Face-to-face counseling at the RSVP offices. Scheduling will be limited to insure privacy.
- Individual counseling either at the beneficiary’s home, or arranged meeting places such as a coffee shop, library, the park, or at places such as the Senior Center (if acceptable to the Center).
- Help with online enrollment during the general open enrollment period for Part D from Nov. 15th through Dec. 31st. (The location for computer help will be determined at a later date.)
We will have a booth at various fairs and events. We will have information available about Part D and will schedule appointments at those times.
Again, the counselor’s job is 5% listening and 95% research. Our job is to put the pieces of the Medicare puzzle together in a more understandable way.
Examples of Questions Individuals May Have for SHIP Counselors:
- What do Medicare Parts A, B, and D cover?
Is there a Medicare Part C? What is it?
Do I need a Medigap policy? If so, which one is best for me?
What Medigap plans are available in my area?
What are the differences between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans?
What are the differences between HMOs, PPOs, PFFS Plans, Medicare Cost Plans?
What are Medicare Supplement Plans A through L? What does this alphabet soup mean?
How do I decide which plan is best for me?
Do I need just Original Medicare and a Supplement Plan or would an insurance health care plan be better? How do I decide?
I just moved from another state. How will that affect my Medicare coverage? How do I find a plan comparable to the one I was happy with?
What about my retirement plan? Do I need to drop it and sign up for Original Medicare or another health plan?
I get VA benefits. Should I sign up for Part D? What about Part B?
My health plan is TriCare for Life. How does this coordinate with Medicare benefits?
How do I know if my doctor will accept Medicare patients?
My pharmacy filled my prescription last month. Now they say they no longer cover the drug I’m on. How did that happen? What should I do?
How can I organize my medical bills to know what is and isn’t covered?
Medicare won’t pay for one of my bills. Should it have? What do I do now?
How can I appeal a Medicare payment denial?
Can I get any financial help to pay my Medicare premium?
Do I really need long-term care insurance?
Can you help me understand my Medicare bill? What do the various items on my Medicare bill mean?
I will have to work another two years after I turn 65 to qualify for Medicare. Should I still sign up for Medicare Part D and pay extra premium until I’m eligible? If I don’t sign up until I quit working, will I have to pay a penalty?
My employer health care plan is urging me to drop my coverage while I am still employed since I will be eligible for Medicare when I turn 65. What should I do?