A State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is a free insurance counseling service provided by the Administration on Community Living and in partnership with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and state aging agencies to assist Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers with Medicare information throughout the year as well as during Medicare’s Open Enrollment from October 15th – December 7th. Every state has a SHIP program, but it may be called a different name. For instance, Minnesota’s is called the Senior Linkage Line. 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 and Medicaid’s benefits. A SHIP can help!
SHIPs answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Part C Advantage Plans (such as HMO, PPO, private fee-for-service (PFFS), etc.), Medicare Part D, long-term care financing options, other prescription coverage, and low-income assistance.
SHIPs provide free, impartial 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 Can SHIPs Offer?
Show Medicare patients how to evaluate Medicare Part A & Part B health insurance, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D), and/or long-term care insurance policies currently available
Teach Medicare patients to assess their needs so they can make informed decisions about their health insurance policies
Educate Medicare patients so that they can understand Medicare, organize their records, file claims, and appeal Medicare decisions
Inform Medicare patients of their rights as a Medicare beneficiary or health insurance policyholder
Refer Medicare patients to appropriate agencies where they can get help with other needs
Assist Medicare patients with finding help to pay for their health and prescription plans premium, deductible, coinsurance, and prescription costs
Provide educational materials and brochures on Medicare and Medicaid related benefits
Provide speakers to make presentations to large and small community groups, professionals, and other interested parties
Contact Your State SHIP! Below provides the State, SHIP Name, Phone Number, and Website:
Illinois Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP)
Minnesota State Health Insurance Assistance Program/ Senior LinkAge Line
Wisconsin State Health Insurance Information Program (SHIP)
Note: For all other state SHIP programs, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visitwww.medicare.gov or www.shiptacenter.org