From the community: SHIP Program Provides Seniors with Medicare Assistance

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From the community: SHIP Program Provides Seniors with Medicare Assistance

Community Contributor VP Public Relations

Wheeling Township has four Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselors to assist seniors with navigating the various components of Medicare along with choosing the right drug plans.
Seniors have a lot to contend with, from aging and increasing health concerns, to worrying about financial needs in retirement.

Wheeling Township’s Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselors assist the elderly with navigating the various aspects of Medicare, including Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. SHIP services are free to all Illinois residents, and provided by highly trained volunteer SHIP counselors at Wheeling Township, as well as other locations throughout the state.

Sponsored by the Illinois Department of Aging, the SHIP program was created to:
• Educate consumers and answer questions about Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, long-term care insurance and prescription drug coverage.
• Provide assistance in all issues related to Medicare, such as enrollment, filing appeals, resolving claims issues and reporting suspected fraud.
• Provide guidance and enrollment help during the annual open enrollment period for Part D drug plans.

Wheeling Township’s volunteer SHIP counselors are available throughout the year, and the office is staffed four days a week. They are especially busy during the Part D open enrollment period, which has a deadline date of Thursday, December 7 in 2017.

Lou Barnett, who has been the volunteer SHIP Coordinator for Wheeling Township since 2010, knows first-hand the difference that SHIP counselors make for seniors in need of their guidance and help.

“This year alone, our four SHIP counselors have helped local seniors save approximately $200,000 on their drug plans for 2018,” Barnett says. “The Township’s SHIP counselors assisted nearly 625 residents in 2017, with everything from reviewing and enrolling in 2018 prescription drug plans, to clarifying different Medicare options and choices.”

A unique feature of the SHIP program is that its volunteers cannot be affiliated with any insurance company, or hold an active insurance license. Since counselors cannot sell insurance, seniors receive free, impartial information so they can make the best decisions for their individual needs.

Wheeling Township’s SHIP counselors also assist residents with applying for Illinois Benefit Access, a state aid program based on income, which allows seniors and permanently disabled individuals to qualify for reduced license plate fees and ride free transit benefits.


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