Indianapolis – The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is a free and impartial counseling program for people with Medicare. SHIP is facilitated by the Indiana Department of Insurance and Administration for Community Living. SHIP is part of a federal network of State Health Insurance Assistance Programs located in every state.
All of SHIP’s services are offered at no charge to consumers. SHIP is not affiliated with any insurance company or agency and does not sell insurance. SHIP is staffed by a crew of volunteer counselors who have completed intensive training to offer Medicare beneficiaries objective assistance in complete confidence.
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (open enrollment) is October 15 through December 7. This is the one time of year when ALL people with Medicare can make changes to their Medicare Advantage health and prescription drug plans for the next year.
During the Medicare open enrollment period, you can:
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (as long as you’re enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B, and you live in the Medicare Advantage plan’s service area)
- Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare (plus a Medicare Part D plan, and possibly a Medigap plan)
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- Switch from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another
- Enroll in a Medicare Part D plan if you didn’t enroll when you were first eligible for Medicare. If you haven’t maintained other creditable coverage, a late-enrollment penalty may apply
If you purchase a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan or switch plans during the annual enrollment period, the changes will begin January 1, 2022.
With more than 100 SHIP sites throughout the state of Indiana, a SHIP counselor is never far away from those who need assistance. SHIP offers numerous events and presentations throughout the state of Indiana to assist Medicare beneficiaries. During open enrollment, some of these events include assistance using the online Planfinder Tool that allows beneficiaries to compare prescription drug plans and Medigap policies based on their specific needs. A listing of SHIP events can be found at www.Medicare.in.gov.
Medicare beneficiaries with income less than $2,006/month and limited assets might qualify for programs that help to pay for Part B monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Some programs even help to pay for prescriptions. SHIP can help with these applications.
If you or someone you know needs help with their Medicare questions, call the SHIP helpline at 1-800-452-4800 or the TTY line for the hearing impaired at 1-866-846-0139. You also can find SHIP online at www.Medicare.IN.gov.
The search for dedicated SHIP Volunteers is ongoing. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can learn more and even apply at www.Medicare.in.gov.