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State Health Insurance Assistance Program

By Caring.com Staff

See a list of SHIP offices by state

Understanding your Medicare plan and making sure your loved one gets quality care that you can afford can be an overwhelming process. It can also be an isolating experience if you don't know where to get help. If you have questions about your coverage or about how to enroll in Medicare and Medicaid plans, you can contact a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program to get personalized help from one of its counselors.

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is a federally funded state program that has been providing free, local, one-on-one health insurance counseling and educational outreach to people on Medicare and their families since 1990. SHIP counselors are committed, trained volunteers. Their goal is to advise, educate, and empower you to manage your healthcare with confidence.

SHIP counselors can help you:

Compare and enroll in plans and programs such as:

  • Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D)
  • Medicare Advantage plans
  • Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap)

And get answers to questions such as:

  • Does Medicare cover nursing home care?
  • Do I need Medicare supplement policies (Medigap)?
  • What does my prescription drug plan cover?
  • How do I enroll in the Extra Help prescription drug program?
  • How do I make a complaint about Medicare?
  • What do I do if Medicare denies a claim payment?

They can also help you understand your affordable long-term care options. All counseling is confidential and objective -- SHIP counselors will never promote or attempt to sell you insurance products. They are there to be your advocates and to help you know your rights as a Medicare beneficiary.

Local SHIP programs hold regular workshops to help the community learn more about Medicare and other affordable healthcare options. They also host enrollment events to help walk you through the enrollment process in a supportive environment where you can ask questions about your own situation.

SHIP Offices in Your State

Select your state from the list below to find your local SHIP program. (Some programs may have a different name, but they're still part of the same SHIP network.) You can also visit www.shiptalk.org to find a counselor.

To learn more about your healthcare options and affordable care, visit www.benefitscheckup.org, a site run by the National Council on Aging.