Massachusetts SHINE: A Medicare and health insurance resource for seniors

June 15, 2010

Each state has its own program dedicated to providing counseling and resources to Medicare beneficiaries. Counselors with each State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (SHIP) provide services by telephone, face-to-face counseling sessions and public education programs to help more than 45 million seniors and their caregivers nationwide best understand their often complex Medicare and Medicaid health insurance benefits.

SHIP counselors may also:

  • Provide information on long-term care
  • Discuss proper use of prescription drugs
  • Help resolve coverage issues and payment disputes

In short, SHIP programs help fill in any gap between federal health insurance benefits and their intended recipients.

Massachusetts SHINE

Massachusetts' SHIP program is called Serving Health Information Needs of Elders (SHINE). The SHINE program was founded in 1988 and has helped more than 400,000 Massachusetts seniors and disabled persons save money on their health care costs. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs administers the program statewide, and the Central Massachusetts Association on Councils on Aging (COA) hosts programs in 63 cities and towns throughout Massachusetts.

SHINE resources

SHINE counselors are familiar with Massachusetts' senior-care plans and are an excellent resource to help retirees and younger disabled Medicare beneficiaries maximize their Medicare coverage. They are community volunteers trained by the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs to provide unbiased and up-to-date health insurance information and advice.

Counselors can help you determine your best coverage options through Medicare or other health insurance coverage, and can help seniors keep Medicare bills in line by preventing unnecessary duplications in coverage. They also can help you fill out and process the often complex and lengthy claim forms and applications associated with Medicare and other insurance programs.
Other areas of health insurance information that SHINE counselors can provide to elders include:

  • Medicare Part A and Part B
  • Medicare Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
  • Medicaid
  • Retiree insurance programs
  • Free hospital care
  • Long-term health insurance options
  • Prescription drug assistance programs
  • Medicare Savings Programs (QMB, SLMB, QI)

SHINE counselors are ready to assist you in navigating your Medicare coverage.

SHINE counselors are here to help

SHINE counselors are available to help all eligible seniors. There are even counselors available for face-to-face visits for home bound clients. Contact them via telephone, as well as at:

  • Councils on aging
  • Senior centers
  • Hospitals
  • Libraries

SHINE counselors even speak many different languages. The program's Medicare Outreach and Education project is designed to increase the ability of the SHINE program to help all seniors in the state. SHINE has recruited and educated bilingual counselors who can help speakers of:

  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Creole
  • Chinese
  • Vietnamese

Contact a SHINE counselor today

Call (800) Age-Info to contact a trained counselor who can answer your Medicare questions, as well as help you establish affordable medical insurance coverage to suit your needs and budget. Counselors also are at the ready to help you with your prescription drug plans and any other insurance-related issues you might have.

A complete list of SHINE member sites and their phone numbers can be found at www.seniorconnection.org/shine_list.htm or visit www.seniorconnection.org for more information.

Rob Sabo

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