SHIIP – NC’s Medicare Assistance Program – Fears Federal Funding Cuts

The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), the division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance that assists people with Medicare, is concerned that the federal budget currently being debated in Congress will eliminate all federal funding for SHIIP making the future of this helpful program uncertain.  They ask that you contact your US Representatives and Senators and encourage them to continue funding for this program.

SHIIP provides education and assistance to North Carolinians in three ways:

  • by operating a nationwide toll-free consumer information phone line Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
  • by training volunteers to counsel Medicare beneficiaries within their community about Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage and long-term care insurance, and
  • by creating educational materials for consumers’ use including the Medicare Supplement Comparison Guide and featuring a Medicare Supplement Premium Comparison Database on their web site (www.ncshiip.com).

The program was founded in 1986 by the Department of Insurance in direct response to the growing concerns about health insurance for the more than one million Medicare beneficiaries in North Carolina. Numerous insurance companies sell Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, long-term care insurance and other medical insurance products to North Carolinians. Because there are so many companies, and because the Medicare system is so complex, SHIIP was founded to provide people who are eligible for Medicare with an objective information service.

State officials are concerned that if federal funding for the program is eliminated SHIIP will not be able to continue. In 2016, NCSHIIP counseled more than 105,000 North Carolina Medicare beneficiaries and helped them save $44.3 million. The volunteer counselors also helped more than 29,000 beneficiaries with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

With Medicare open enrollment beginning Oct. 15, if your patients need help navigating their Medicare options, they can contact SHIIP at the toll-free consumer number, 1-855-408-1212, by visiting the SHIIP Web site, www.ncshiip.com, or e-mailing ncshiip@ncdoi.gov. Trained SHIIP Volunteer Counselors are available in all 100 counties of North Carolina. If the problem is too complex to handle over the phone, patients may contact their local SHIIP Coordinator for a one-on-one appointment.

The Extra Help Program – or Low-Income Subsidy Program (LIS) – also helps qualified Medicare beneficiaries pay for their Medicare prescription drug program costs, such as premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.

 
 

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