Securing savings and independence: SHIP successes
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Securing savings and independence: SHIP successes

January 30, 2012 Get Help

Get contact details for your state’s health insurance assistance program.

Benefits counselors at State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) do more than provide objective assistance with choosing plans and applying for benefits. Many work tirelessly to connect their clients to a range of services to help them remain healthy and independent, as evidenced by these two examples from Iowa and California.

A concerned counselor helps an Iowan save thousands

Ms. Y approached Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period to compare her prescription drug plan choices. Terry Townsend, a SHIIP counselor in Newton, discovered that Ms. Y’s current plan incur costs of $13,257 in the coming year due to a formulary change. 

When Ms. Y didn’t show up for two scheduled follow-up appointments, Townsend eventually located her (she was out of town), and reviewed her plan options over the phone. Ms. Y requested to be enrolled in a different plan. Townsend’s concern for this client drove him to “find” her before the end of the year so that she had coverage for all of her prescriptions for 2012.

Helping retain independence in California

Last December, Mr. X, a 65-year-old Medicare beneficiary, called the California Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) at the Passages Center because he wanted to secure his independence, despite living with a disability and frailty. Mr. X had a fear of early institutionalization—earlier in the month, he had been sent to a skilled nursing facility following a hospitalization caused by a fall.

Mr. X wasn’t sure what Medicare could cover, and wanted to see if he was eligible for programs to help him stay at home. His son lived 500 miles away and couldn’t stay with him indefinitely, and Mr. X didn’t have in place a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC). 

With the assistance of Passages’ staff, Mr. X received a booklet which contained a DPAHC, and got a trusted local friend to be his DPAHC “agent”. In addition, a referral was made to Passages’ Volunteer Services to find an RSVP volunteer who could give him a ride to his medical appointments. Furthermore, because of his frail condition and Medi-Cal eligibility, the Center’s care management program provided him with a walker and a bath transfer chair, in addition to other services to ensure that he can remain independent for as long as possible.  

Mr. X is very happy to be able to continue living on his own with the services that Passages has to offer. But it was through the HICAP door, and the spirit of coordination that exists between Passages programs that makes Mr. X’s situation a real success story!


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