Accessing Medical Insurance Information is Easy for Florida Seniors

Maryalene LaPonsie | July 26, 2010

Sunny Florida SHINEs for Senior Health Insurance

In sunny Florida, seniors and their families can be all smiles about a government program called SHINE: Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders. Created specifically for older Floridians, the program offers free and unbiased advice about affordable health insurance, medical coverage and supplemental health insurance plans.

SHINE is Florida's State Health Insurance Program (SHIP). The federal government requires that each state operate a SHIP office to help seniors and other Medicare recipients navigate the maze of health insurance terms, options and procedures. In Florida, the SHINE program takes its services a step further by offering comprehensive information on everything from long-term care planning to prescription drug coverage.

SHINE: Helping Older Floridians with Health Care Choices

Medicare is affordable health insurance for seniors and certain disabled individuals. However, it does not provide all the medical coverage you may need. Many seniors turn to Medigap, supplemental health insurance for Medicare, to fill in the holes in their Medicare coverage. SHINE counselors work with Floridian seniors to determine which Medigap policies may be best for their needs.

SHINE uses a team of trained volunteers who are knowledgeable in all aspects of senior health care. In addition, the state prohibits anyone with an active insurance license from working as a volunteer. This provision ensures that volunteers do not have a conflict of interest and that older Floridians and their families receive only unbiased advice about their health insurance options.

In addition, the SHINE program works to ensure its services are conveniently available for seniors. You may request information and counseling in one of the following ways:

  • Office Appointment
  • Toll-Free Phone Call
  • Internet and Email
  • Home Visit for Homebound Seniors

The SHINE office also regularly holds community events such as outreach programs and enrollment seminars in various parts of the state.

Supplemental Health Insurance and More

At SHINE, volunteers recognize that seniors often contend with a number of different medical coverage issues. Their comprehensive training covers the following topics:

  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Medigap Supplemental Health Insurance
  • Long Term Care Insurance
  • Prescription Drug Assistance
  • Medicare Fraud

Older Floridians requiring additional assistance can receive referrals to one of SHINE's partner agencies. These offices include senior centers, community organizations and medical centers. Combined with the services offered by SHINE, seniors and their families have access to a variety of resources intended to help them make informed health care decisions.

Medicare offers health insurance to countless Americans. While no one denies that it offers invaluable benefits to recipients, there is no doubt that the system can be confusing to the young and old alike. SHIP offices, such as Florida's SHINE program, take the mystery out of medical insurance planning--that is something worth smiling about.

To request assistance from SHINE or to volunteer as a SHINE counselor, you can call the agency's toll-free hotline at 1-800-96-ELDER(3-5337) or visit the SHINE website.

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