Senate Appropriations Committee recommends defunding State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) – time to speak out!

Medicare beneficiaries across the nation, including younger, disabled individuals, depend on SHIP for objective guidance regarding Medicare insurance decisions. Medicare is incredibly complex with myriad options; rules about when one can/can’t enroll; ever-changing drug coverage and provider networks; and precious few user-friendly information sources. SHIP makes a huge difference.

In North Carolina, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) serves the state’s 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries. Senior PharmAssist is SHIIP coordinating site for Durham County, and during Medicare’s open enrollment period (OEP) for 2017, 54% of the individuals we saw with a Part D drug plan needed to switch plans for better coverage. We saved “switchers” an average of $935 on their projected medications expenses for this year. Our program is unique as a SHIIP site because we have pharmacists trained in geriatrics who also review drug regimens; during OEP, our pharmacists made 286 interventions regarding medication concerns or cost savings. We also made 79 referrals to other resources such as Duke Hardship applications and MQB to pay Medicare Part B premiums.

According to NC SHIIP, the program’s activities in 2016:

  • Helped North Carolina Medicare beneficiaries save $44.3 million.
  • Counseled more than 105,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Served almost 21,000 Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities.
  • Counseled more than 29,000 beneficiaries with incomes below 150% of federal poverty level.

We encourage you to heed NC SHIIP’s call to action and contact your congressman. Click here to identify your representative and then proceed to their page to voice your concerns. Don’t let Congress dessert the SHIP!