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  • Karen Mcphail

Helpful Medicare SHIP Information to end the Week!

Do you know about SHIPs?

SHIPs or State Health Insurance Assistance Programs offer assistance in a variety of ways.

SHIP is a free health benefits counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their families or caregivers.

The program mission is to advocate, counsel, educate, and empower individuals to make knowledgeable and informed healthcare benefit decisions.

SHIPs offer individualized counseling services and assistance for those with Medicare and their caregivers.

The SHIP in your local area can assist in answering Medicare questions, including eligibility, enrollment, benefits, premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.

SHIP Counseling is free of charge for all!

State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) provide free help to Medicare beneficiaries who have questions or issues with their health insurance. You can call a counselor or attend a workshop/presentation in your area

SHIPs are funded in part by state funds and by grants from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The original program was founded in 1992 to provide Medicare beneficiaries with free, objective health insurance information and one-on-one counseling.

SHIP counselors are people from your community who have volunteered to be a counselor and they are trained in Medicare eligibility, benefits and options, health insurance counseling and related insurance products.

SHIP counselors are NOT connected with any insurance company, nor are they licensed to sell insurance or provide any legal advice.

A SHIP counselor will NOT make decisions for you. Their purpose is to assist you objectively and confidentially, and to empower you to make your own wise health care decisions.

SHIP Counseling is free of charge.

If you are eligible for Medicare, you are eligible for SHIP Counseling.

All States including Puerto Rico offer SHIP, however the program name can be known as something other than SHIP. which can be confusing!

Some of the different names States call the program are:


Some local SHIP information is listed below:

Maryland SHIP Website:

Phone: 410-767-1100

The Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) meets one of the most universal needs of Medicare beneficiaries , including those under 65 years of age. SHIP helps seniors understand their health insurance benefits, bills and rights. The Maryland SHIP program provides trained staff and volunteer counselors in all 24 counties. Counselors provide in-person and telephone assistance in the following general areas for Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Program, Medicare supplements (Medigap Plans), Assistance for disabled Medicare beneficiaries (under age 65), Medicare Advantage Plans (HMOs, preferred provider organizations), Long Term Care Insurance, Medical Assistance programs, Assistance for low-income beneficiaries and other topics important to seniors. The Maryland Department of Aging receives funding for this program from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the State of Maryland and local governments. SHIP counseling services are confidential and free of charge.

Virginia SHIP Website:

For the State of Virginia -

Phone: 800-552-3402

Program Name: Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program Name - VICAP

VICAP helps seniors understand their health insurance benefits, bills and rights. VICAP counselors can help Medicare beneficiaries, including those with disabilities and younger than 65, explore options that best meet their needs. Counselors will help compare the quality of care and services given by health and prescription drug plans available in your area.

Counselors can also help with health care appeals, denials and identifying those eligible for low-income subsidies. VICAP counselors are not licensed to sell insurance. Counselors are trained and certified to help individuals understand and compare benefits, assist with filing for benefits based on income and resources, and inform individuals of their rights.

There are programs in Virginia that can save you money: the Extra Help Program and the Medicare Savings Programs. You may qualify to get help paying for the Part D premium and/or your Part B premium.

If you can answer “YES” to these questions, you should apply for help paying your Medicare costs:

  1. Is your monthly income (for 2018) at or below $1,538 for a single person or $2,078 for a married couple?

  2. Are your resources (for 2018) at or below $14,100 for a single person or $28,150 for a married couple? Resources don’t include your home, car, household items, burial plot or life insurance policies.

If you answered “YES” to the questions above, call your local Area Agency on Aging to speak to a VICAP counselor for assistance in filling out the application to receive assistance in paying your Medicare costs. Also ask about annual wellness visits and other ways to stay healthy!

Washington D.C. SHIP Website: Phone: 202-994-6272, TTY 202-973-1079

Program Name: Health Insurance Counseling Project (HICP)

For District of Columbia residents with Medicare, or who are 60 years or older, HICP provides a telephone help line where consumers can leave confidential messages. Calls returned during business hours. HICP also offers community education programs to help you understand Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance.

Call to set an appointment to have sessions held at a local school, church, senior center, government agency, and at other community groups!!!

Visit to find out what SHIP is called in your state, and to obtain more specific contact information.


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