Get Help with Medicare Decisions from State Health Insurance Counseling Programs

help with medicare decisions

Get help navigating Medicare from free state counseling programs

The Medicare Open Enrollment period is here. It runs from October 15th to December 7th each year.

Now is the time to figure out which healthcare and prescription drug plans will give your older adult the best coverage at the lowest cost.

Fortunately, state-run counseling programs are available to help with complex Medicare decisions – and it’s a free service.

Expert counselors help you understand which Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, and Medicaid benefits will work best for your older adult based on their health needs.

These government counseling programs are generally called SHIP, which stands for State Health Insurance and Assistance Programs. Anyone can call a SHIP counselor for Medicare advice – even if they’re not currently enrolled.

We explain why getting expert advice before choosing a Medicare plan can save time and money and how to find your local SHIP office.



Save time and money, get expert help with Medicare decisions

Choosing the right Medicare plan is confusing, time-consuming, and headache-inducing.

It may seem like an impossible task to study the available plans, review the drug formularies, and estimate your older adult’s future medical needs.

This is where a SHIP counselor can really help. They’re experts in Medicare and Medicaid so they can save time by guiding to you options that work best for your older adult’s specific needs.

For example, we’ve heard from a California SHIP program manager that she’s often able to save people hundreds or thousands of dollars just by helping them choose a better prescription drug plan.


Program names can differ across states

These programs are generally referred to as SHIP, but because they’re state-run, the names can be different in some states.

Some of the more common program names across U.S. states are: SHIIP, SHINE, SHIBA, or HICAP.

Despite the name differences, the counseling services are the same across all states.


Find a local SHIP counselor

To find a SHIP counselor in your area, visit the National SHIP home page to find your state’s SHIP website and phone number.

Then, call them directly or browse the state website to find a program office near you.


Next Step  Find your local SHIP counseling office via your state’s SHIP website


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: GEARS


This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


  • Reply October 26, 2017

    Linda Hoff

    Can you really call a volunteer who’s had an average of 10-15 hours of training an “Expert”?

    • Reply October 26, 2017


      In order to provide accurate Medicare advice, each SHIP organization has staff and volunteers who go through mandatory initial and ongoing training and certification. Each state’s requirements may be different. If you’re concerned about the advice you’re getting, you can always request to speak with the supervisor or director of the organization about your concerns.

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