Medicare: Asking questions, answering questions

Medicare: Asking questions, answering questions

Greater MetroWest CARES, the Committee Addressing Resources for Seniors, is coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and brings together leaders from GMW agencies to promote independence and support vitality among older adults. Throughout the year, these agencies have the opportunity to address critical eldercare issues in this column. This article on SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) is presented by Jewish Family Service of MetroWest.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease. Understanding the options available through Medicare and the services they cover is often complex and overwhelming. Experienced and trained State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselors can increase individuals’ understanding about the different Medicare plans, prescription drug coverage, potential gaps in coverage and how to fill them, and how to address claims issues.

SHIP is a statewide program that provides free, objective, confidential help to NJ Medicare beneficiaries who have problems with or questions about Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Part D, and Long-Term Care Insurance Services.

Jewish Family Service of MetroWest has been awarded the contract to administer SHIP in Essex County. Services are provided via phone, face to face, or through public education presentations. SHIP counselors do not provide legal advice or sell, recommend, or endorse any specific insurance product, agent, or insurance company; they provide information so that individuals can make the best decisions.

Getting your questions answered: SHIP counselors are available year-round via the JFS SHIP helpline, 973-637-1717. Essex County SHIP coordinator Siobhan Flynn-Higgins, LSW, can answer questions or direct people to a SHIP counselor located nearby.

Volunteering as a SHIP Counselor: JFS MetroWest is operating SHIP as a program of the RSVP Center of Essex & Hudson Counties, an organization that enables individuals 55 and over to engage in volunteer service. To that end, RSVP is seeking volunteers with strong communication skills and the ability to use a computer who are interested in being trained as SHIP counselors. Training will be conducted in early spring 2017. Volunteers undertake a five-day course and should plan to devote at least five-10 hours per month counseling clients, with a one-year commitment. Contact Stephanie Grove at 973-637-1766 or

SHIP is sponsored by the NJ Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services, supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living and the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC.

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