En español | State health insurance assistance programs (SHIPs) are valuable resources for anyone who needs help with Medicare or Medicaid issues. They provide one-on-one help from trained counselors, whose assistance comes free of charge and (just as importantly) free from sales pressure. SHIP counselors can help you consider your options in Medicare; identify the Medigap, Part D or Medicare Advantage plan that best meets your needs and preferences; check whether you qualify for programs that reduce your costs in Medicare (such as Medicare Savings Programs and Extra Help); and advise on other insurance issues, such as Medicaid, long-term care insurance and making appeals.
If English is not your first language, the SHIP can arrange for an interpreter or refer you to a local organization that offers similar counseling in your own language — also at no charge.
The SHIPs, which are jointly funded by the federal and state governments, are available in every state, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The programs have different names in some places (for example, HICAP in California, SHINE in Florida, SHIBA in Idaho). To find the main toll-free phone number of your SHIP, go to www.shiptacenter.org and select your state.