October 18, 2013
Are you on Medicare and need help making decisions regarding your choices? If so, the local Office on Aging can assist you with information.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, is a national program that provides free and objective one-on-one counseling, information distribution and assistance to people with Medicare, potential Medicare consumers, their families and other advocates. SHIP can assist consumers via telephone, face-to-face, interactive sessions, public education presentations and media outlets.
According to Denise West, director of the Claiborne County Office on Aging, there are hundreds of people in the county eligible for assistance with their Medicare Part D premiums.
“According to the last census, there were 466 people. We just don’t have their names,” she said. “We need to get in touch with them and can help them make an educated choice.”
A free workshop will be held at the Tazewell Senior Citizens Center Oct. 29 at 10:30 a.m. and at the Harrogate Center at 1:30 p.m. Kim Ward, a SHIP coordinator, will be on hand to answer questions.
SHIP can counsel consumers on a large variety of topics and issues. Topics typically addressed are on Medicare and Medicaid (TennCare), Medigap, enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D), and the accompanying Low Income Subsidy, finding help with the cost of prescription drugs during coverage gaps and access to drugs not covered by Part D, Medicare Advantage options, claims and billing problem resolution, information and referral on public benefit programs, employer and retiree health insurance options for those with Medicare and VA benefits and other military health insurance for those with Medicare.
The local Office on Aging, which is funded in part by the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency (ETHRA) and is a partner of the East Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability, will have help available in the future to help people make an educated choice and help them enroll. Open enrollment began Oct. 1.
“We will also send people to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for possible qualification for help with Medicare premiums,” said West.
All of these services are free, she added. Also, the local office or SHIP cannot endorse any insurance company, agency, agent or plan, even to the extent that they are prohibited from making even the appearance of an endorsement. SHIP’s goal is solely to help consumers make informed decisions.
For assistance by phone, SHIP can be reached by calling toll-free 1-877-801-0044. For information about what the local Office on Aging can help with, call 423-626-9471.
Claiborne Progress|Civitas Media