The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is a free and impartial counseling program for people with Medicare. SHIP is provided by the Indiana Department of Insurance and Administration on Community Living. SHIP is part of a federal network of State Health Insurance Assistance Programs located in every state. All of SHIP’s services are offered at no charge to consumers. SHIP is not affiliated with any insurance company or agency and does not sell insurance. SHIP is staffed by a crew of volunteer counselors who have completed intensive training to offer Medicare beneficiaries objective assistance in complete confidence. With more than 100 SHIP sites throughout the state of Indiana, a SHIP counselor is never far away from those who need assistance. SHIP offers numerous events and presentations throughout the state of Indiana to assist Medicare beneficiaries. During open enrollment, some of these events include assistance using the online Planfinder Tool that allows beneficiaries to compare prescription drug plans and Medigap policies based on their specific needs. A listing of SHIP events can be found at www.Medicare.in.gov. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (open enrollment) happens every year from October 15 through December 7. This is the one time of year when ALL people with Medicare can make changes to their Medicare Advantage health and prescription drug plans for the next year. If you purchase a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan or switch plans during the annual enrollment period, the changes will begin January 1, 2019. There are new options offered in Indiana for 2019. These include Medicare Advantage plans with expanded benefits and Medicare Savings Accounts (MSAs). MSAs combine a high-deductible health plan with a bank account that the plan selects. For this year, the deductible is $6700, and the plan will deposit $2,520 into the account. You can use the money to pay for health care services during the year. You cannot add funds to the account, but it can accrue interest and the unused balance will rollover to the next year. MSAs don’t include drug coverage so you would have to enroll in a stand-alone Part D drug plan. Medicare beneficiaries with income less than $1,850/month and limited assets might qualify for programs that help to pay for Part B monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Some programs even help to pay for prescriptions. SHIP can help with these applications. If you or someone you know needs help with their Medicare questions, call the SHIP helpline at 1-800-452-4800 or the TDD line for the hearing impaired at 1-866-846-0139. You also can find SHIP online at www.Medicare.IN.gov. The search for dedicated SHIP Volunteers is ongoing. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can learn more and even apply at www.Medicare.in.gov.
October 20th, 2018|Local News|