Senior Health Insurance Program Funding Cut

senior health insurance plan funding cutIt looks like a nationwide senior health insurance program could be killed by budget cuts in Washington.

Kaiser Health News headline reads: Panel Kills Medicare Program That Offers Help On Enrollment, Billing Issues.

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or “SHIP,” is among more than a dozen programs left out of the bill by the committee. Cutting these “unnecessary federal programs” helped provide needed funding for other efforts, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the appropriations committee’s health and labor subcommittee, said in a statement last week.

Pima Council on Aging runs the senior health insurance program in Tucson.

Volunteers with the Pima Council on Aging in Tucson offer free counseling to Medicare beneficiaries with funding from the federal government. That funding will end unless it is put back into the budget.

From the Kaiser Health News article:

SHIP counselors are in every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories offering free advice on how to choose from an array of drug and health insurance plans, challenge coverage denials, and receive financial subsidies for premiums, co-payments and deductibles. They provide one-on-one counseling as well as host enrollment clinics, informational meetings, special “Welcome to Medicare” events for new beneficiaries and answer questions over toll-free telephone help lines.

I wonder if insurance company lobbyists had anything to do with this move to kill SHIP.  Some would say that seniors can get advice and info from insurance agents – while others would say people need advice from organizations without any conflict of interest.

Medicare is kind of complicated and not all insurance agents have the experience and knowledge to provide a thorough Medicare overview to their clients.  That’s why I suggest people ask how many years their agent has worked with Medicare beneficiaries.  The longer an agent/broker has worked in the business, the more likely he/she is to be able to fully explain the ins and outs of Medicare – and answer the many questions a person might have about their coverage options.

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