SHIP counselors guide seniors on Medicare options

By: Porter County Aging and Community Services Last Updated: November 9, 2019

Seniors who need assistance navigating the 2020 Medicare plan options can meet with a SHIP counselor at the Porter County Aging and Community Services offices, 1005 Campbell St.

Trained State Health Insurance Program volunteers can offer one-on-one guidance and assistance on what Medicare plans fit best. Appointments can be made by calling 219-464-1028 or emailing ship@portercountyacs.org.

SHIP coordinator Ginger Brockwehl said reviewing plans and making changes as needed is an annual necessity during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which wraps up Dec. 7.

“It’s always helpful to review your plan every year to see if there is a better plan at a lower cost, if there’s a different plan with more benefits or to confirm your plan is still the best for you,” she said. “It’s important to verify that all of your medications are going to be covered and project your costs for next year.

“You don’t want to go to the pharmacy in January or February and find out that a medication has been dropped by your plan or that the cost has gone up.”

SHIP counselors have updated training twice a year on any changes and new volunteers have four to five days of training.

“Our clients are meeting with a counselor who has experience and knowledge and has access to resources to answer any questions,” she said. “A lot of our clients don’t use a computer or some come in and have done a review at home and want to meet with us for a second opinion.”

Brockwehl said those who already have a Medicare.gov log-in and password should bring that information to an appointment along with current Medicare or other health insurance cards and a list of current prescriptions or the actual medication bottles.

“To me, the choices people make about Medicare coverage are among the most important decisions in their retirement life,” she said. “No one wants to spend more money than they need to.”

“Helping people make good decisions about Medicare while also helping them save costs whenever possible is a very fulfilling experience,” added SHIP volunteer Jim Mooney. “As soon as the training began, I found myself asking the question: ‘How can anyone do this on their own?’ There’s quite a bit to making a good decision on Medicare. I find myself sending people home with more dollars in their pockets than before we met.”

For more information on SHIP, visit www.portercountyacs.org/ship