| Tue, Oct 22, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

SHIP can be a Lifeline to Medicare Information

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesAre you drowning in medical bills? Need some direction navigating the Medicare system?

In an attempt to help people understand and pay for Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) started a national assistance program in1990 which became the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). The focus of this health benefits counseling service is to provide easy-to-understand information about Medicare coverage and financial assistance programs. If you qualify for Medicare, you qualify for this service.

About SHIP

SHIP programs may differ in name from state to state but they are available in every state, including Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. SHIP is funded in part by the State and by grants from CMS. The program is not connected with any insurance company, so Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers can be sure they are getting accurate and objective information to help them make decisions about Medicare coverage. Most communities offer SHIP workshops or presentations. You can also call or arrange a personal meeting with one of the many SHIP counselors nationwide. 

What to Expect

SHIP counselors are volunteers from your community who are trained in Medicare eligibility, benefits and options, health insurance counseling and related insurance products. They are not connected to any insurance companies. SHIP counselors will explain your options and tell you about other programs that may help you pay for your coverage. They will not give you legal advice or make decisions for you.

SHIP and Open Enrollment

During Open Enrollment (Oct 15-Dec 7) there are many SHIP events, sometimes called a “Medicare Monday” event because they are held on a Monday. Attending these sessions can be a great way to learn about your health care options so you can make informed decisions about your coverage next year.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.


Medicare Reference Guide: Read easy-to-understand explanations about Medicare options and costs.

SHIP Programs by State: Look up your state’s SHIP program.

SHIP Counselors by State: Find a SHIP counselor in your state.


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