SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) volunteers help people who have Medicare questions. The SHIIP program is a federal program, with state coordinators in most every state. There are a dozen folks at the state level and some 380 volunteers in 125 or so sponsor sites around Iowa. Last year Iowa clients saved about thirty million dollars through the efforts of the state of Iowa SHIIP activities. We could always use more help as we only serve around 8%-15% of Medicare eligible individuals. Our local sponsor site is Friendship Haven. The office phone number is 515-573-6764.
I got involved five years ago after reading a story in an AARP magazine that talked about the program and the need for volunteers in Webster County. I had been retired several years and needed something that was going to keep my brain clicking. There are two SHIIP volunteers that meet, by appointment, with people who have questions. We see people just coming into Medicare, and want to make sense of all of the choices. There are those who want to see the options if they want to change their supplements. Then every October 15- December 7, we see folks who want to find out if there is a cheaper or better prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan for them during the next calendar year. We get a fair number of individuals that are eligible to get extra help paying for premiums, prescriptions, or co-pays. When someone wants to challenge a Medicare payment decision, we can help with the appeal process. When veterans or other people who have a retiree plan want to compare their coverage and cost against the public Medicare option, we can summarize those numbers. If we cannot answer a question, we can call and get help from our state office personnel. Our goal is to help clients make informed decisions regarding their Medicare options.
It is a constant challenge to stay up on the program, and rewarding to be able to shed some light on someone’s problem. It’s always gratifying to save someone some money; so far my greatest single savings was right at $30,000. If you’re looking for something that exercises your brain, and helps someone else at the same time, try a challenging volunteer opportunity.