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Senior Health Insurance Program information.

All states administer a Senior Health Insurance Program which will provide free information on medical and health care plans and programs. A focus is on addressing questions and concerns with government plans, including Medicare. However volunteers and counselors can also provide information on education services, private health insurance, Medicare prescription drug programs and more.

Volunteers from Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) operate in every state, and many of their services are coordinated by Area Agency on Aging offices. The program is not affiliated with any insurance company, and they will not sell you any products or services.

Information and questions on Medicare and health insurance

Every month tens of thousands of people are turning 65. Many of them have already either retried from their jobs, or they will soon be retiring and filing for Medicare or some form of government medical care. Seniors citizens who currently receive their health care from Medicare, or who are considering filing for it, can get help from SHIP in a number of ways. Thousands of offices around the nation support the program, and all services are free and are volunteer-based. Every year tens of thousands of seniors receive help and advice, and the counselors assist people with saving tens of millions of dollars on their Medicare costs and bills.

Volunteers from SHIP will provide one on one counseling sessions for those who need personal advice. In addition, the program’s staff or volunteers will coordinate and hold presentations at senior centers, agency on aging offices and other non-profit organizations. The counselors are highly training and independent. They provide accurate, objective information to anyone who has questions and needs help. Counselors will help you understand your options so that you can make a better-informed decision when it comes to fulfilling your health care needs.

Some examples of the private counseling sessions include the following. Get information and advice on Medicare benefits including Advantage products and Supplement policies. Learn about prescription medications from Medicare Part D. Advice is also offered on private health insurance plans as well as Long-Term Care Insurance. All Senior Health Insurance Program presentations and counseling sessions are both unbiased and free. In addition, all sessions and advice provided is confidential.




Medicare recipients, regardless of their age, can receive the most up-to-date information on all forms of state and federal government insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare. However, if after a review, if you think those options may not be the best for you, then also learn about other possible health insurance plans, education and outreach services. Regardless of your income or background, volunteers provide objective, confidential, uniform, and top notch health insurance information to all who need assistance.

Seniors can also apply for lower rates on their health insurance from the Affordable Care Act. The benefits from this federal government program can be combined with Medicare. Or in those cases in which the individual is maybe retired or out of the work force, but is not eligible for Medicare yet as they are under the age of 65, then this program can fill the gap in coverage. More low priced health insurance plans.

Current Medicare beneficiaries

If you are currently receiving your health care and insurance from Medicare, then the Senior Health Insurance Program can also assist you. Representatives will answer your questions about any of the matters listed below. They will help ensure you are billed correctly, are not overcharged, are not subject to fraud, and that you are able to access the services that you are entitled too.

Counselors from SHIP are trained to provide accurate information and answer questions regarding almost any question on health insurance coverage for the Medicare-eligible person. All counselors (most of whom are volunteers) provide free, confidential, one-on-one assistance.

Not only will they just answer questions, but they are pro-active in their support as well. They can help determine when a person with Medicare has gaps in their health insurance coverage or when they are being overcharged. Or SHIP can even advise when someone with Medicare has too much insurance coverage. Get answers to your questions and support with the following.

  • Medicare health coverage for senior citizens and for people under age 65 who have disabilities.
  • Receive information on Medicare prescription drug plans, such as part D.
  • Support for other coverage, such as long-term care insurance, home health care coverage, and retiree health plans.
  • Medicare supplemental insurance and Advantage Plans exist as well, such as HMOs and PPOs. Receive details on these resources and plans.
  • Apply for general financial and medical bill assistance programs for people with limited incomes.







The rules and regulations for Medicare are very complicated. If you have ever had a question about Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Long Term Care insurance, or Medicare Part D, then SHIP is there for you. Or even if you have just needed help making sense of all the paperwork and claim forms, or assistance with unraveling hospital and physician bills, then this free service can assist with that as well.

The program is open to most people. All Medicare beneficiaries can get help from SHIP. The service is also available to their families and caregivers. Also, anyone is welcome to call with long term health care insurance questions, or questions about prescription drug help or Medicare billing issues for older adults.

Costs and who to call

All services are free. Representatives from Senior Health Insurance Program do not sell any products or policies, they are not related to any insurance companies, and they do not conduct market research. Benefits and SHIP counselors may not recommend any insurance policy or plan to you or your family. Their main role is to provide factual, unbiased information and help you understand your options, so that you can make a better-informed decision.

They may also offer assistance and to act as advocates when needed by the client. For example, they can organize and assist in filing Medicare and Medicare Supplement claims and analyze policies on your behalf, if you so choose.

To learn more, call your local agency on aging office. Most centers offer a toll-free line to call.

State health insurance programs

Alabama - 1-800-243-5463

Alaska - 1-800-478-6065

Arizona - 1-800-432-4040

Arkansas - 1-800-224-6330

California - 1-800-434-0222

Colorado - 1-888-696-7213

Connecticut - 1-800-994-9422

Delaware ELDERinfo - 1-800-336-9500

District of Columbia HICP - 202-739-0668

Florida SHINE - 1-800-963-5337

Georgia - 1-800-669-8387

Hawaii - 1-888-875-9229

Idaho - 1-800-247-4422

Illinois - 1-800-548-9043

Indiana SHIP program - 1-800-452-4800

Iowa - 1-800-351-4664

Kansas SHICK - 1-800-860-5260

Kentucky - 1-877-293-7447

Louisiana - 1-800-259-5301

Maine - 1-877-353-3771

Maryland - 1-800-243-3425

Massachusetts SHINE - 1-800-243-4636





Michigan services are offered by MMAP - 1-800-803-7174

Minnesota - 1-800-333-2433

Mississippi - 1-800-948-3090

Missouri - 1-800-390-3330

Montana - 1-800-551-3191

Nebraska - 1-800-234-7119

Nevada - 1-800-307-4444

New Hampshire - 1-866-634-9412

New Jersey - 1-800-792-8820

New Mexico - 505-476-4799

New York HICAP - 1-800-701-0501

North Carolina - 1-800-443-9354

North Dakota - 1-888-575-6611

Ohio OSHIIP - 1-800-686-1578

Oklahoma - 1-800-763-2828

Oregon’s program is known as SHIBA - 1-800-722-4134

Pennsylvania - 1-800-783-7067

Puerto Rico -1-800-981-7735

Rhode Island - 401-462-4444

South Carolina - 1-800-868-9095

South Dakota - 1-800-536-8197

Tennessee SHIP service can be reached at - 1-877-801-0044

Texas HICAP - 1-800-252-9240

Utah - 1-800-541-7735

Vermont - 1-800-642-5119

Virginia VICAP - 1-800-552-3402

Virgin Islands - 340-772-7368

Washington SHIBA - 1-800-562-6900

West Virginia - 1-877-987-4463

Wisconsin - 1-800-242-1060

Wyoming - 1-800-856-4398


By Jon McNamara

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