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Medicare’s 2020 Open Enrollment: October 15–December 7

Medicare Patients May Have Questions - A State Health Insurance Assistance Program Can Help

What is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program?

A SHIP is a free insurance counseling service provided by the Administration on Community Living and in partnership with CMS and state aging agencies to assist Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers with Medicare information every day. As a Medicare provider, there may be a time when you will need to refer a Medicare patient and/or caregiver to obtain more information on Medicare/Medicaid’s benefits. A SHIP can help.

Each year during open enrollment, SHIPs answer questions about Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans (such as HMO, PPO, private fee-for-service, etc.), Medicare Part D, long-term care financing options, other prescription coverage, and low-income assistance. Medicare patients should choose their Medicare plan based on coverage, cost and convenience. However, if the Medicare patient is happy with their current plan, then no change is needed.

SHIPs provide free, unbiased information to help consumers make informed decisions regarding their health care choices. Each SHIP strives to help Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers to be wise consumers and to get the most value for their health insurance dollars.

What SHIPs Can Offer

  • Provide educational brochures on Medicare/Medicaid-related benefits.
  • Educate beneficiaries so that they can understand Medicare, organize their records, file claims and appeal Medicare decisions.
  • Teach consumers to assess their needs so they can make informed decisions about their health insurance policies.
  • Inform consumers of their rights as a Medicare beneficiary or health insurance policyholder.
  • Show consumers how to evaluate the various Medicare Part D, Medicare supplement and long term care insurance policies currently available.
  • Refer clients to appropriate agencies where they can get help with other needs.
  • Assist clients with finding help to pay for their prescriptions through Medicare Part D plans, drug manufacturers’ patient assistance programs and retail discounts.
  • Provide speakers to make presentations to large and small community groups, professionals, and other interested parties.

Find your States SHIP or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit for more information.

Posted 10/9/2019

Last Modified: 10/24/19
Medicare’s 2020 Open Enrollment: October 15–December 7
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