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SHIP counseling is available

Open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15-Dec. 7

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 6:58 a.m. CDT

A volunteer counselor from the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is available at Morris Hospital by appointment to provide free health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers.

A program of the Illinois Department of Insurance, SHIP counselors are volunteers who are trained to educate consumers and answer questions about Medicare, Medicare supplements, long term care insurance, and Advantage plans.  SHIP counselors are also available to help analyze policies.

SHIP is not affiliated with any insurance company, and the counselors do not sell or solicit any type of insurance.

Morris Hospital serves as the sponsor for the three local SHIP volunteers.

This is an especially active time of year for the SHIP Program, with the open enrollment period running from Oct. 15-Dec. 7 for seniors and disabled persons who have a Medicare Drug Plan. The open enrollment period provides an opportunity to make changes to the plan without penalty.

“There are several reasons people may want to change their Medicare plan,” explains Dick Sefton, coordinator of the Morris Hospital based SHIP. “Maybe the current plan is going to be more expensive than another plan in 2013, or the existing plan will no longer cover certain medications next year.

“Sometimes people are not satisfied with the level of service provided with their existing plan, or they want a plan that offers mail order. There are all kinds of options to consider.”

Sefton says it’s especially important for individuals on the State of Illinois’ Circuit Breaker program to select a new drug program during the open enrollment period if they haven’t already done so.

“Medicare coverage and all the available options are somewhat complicated,” Sefton says. “We’re here to help people make educated decisions with regards to the various drug and supplemental programs that are available to seniors and disabled persons.”

Individuals interested in meeting with a SHIP counselor at Morris Hospital should call (815) 942-2932, ext. 1063. Please leave a message, and someone will call you back to schedule an appointment.

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