Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP)
The purpose of SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) is to provide free, unbiased counseling to Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers about Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D), Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), Medicare supplement plans and other supplemental insurance, billing and claims issues, Medicare fraud and abuse.
This service is provided by highly trained volunteers whose goal is to serve Medicare beneficiaries by assisting them to make insurance decision-making easier, provide information to compare Medicare and insurance plans, assist with enrolling in Medicare prescription drug plans and assistance programs, and understanding the bills they receive for their health care. Counselors provide one-to-one assistance in a confidential setting. These counselors are not affiliated with any insurance, financial planning or pharmaceutical industries.
SHIIP volunteers also provide free informational materials and community presentations such as "Welcome to Medicare.". The volunteers, trained by the State of Iowa Insurance Division, answer questions and provide impartial information to help seniors make well-informed decisions.
SHIIP counselors help to answer questions such as:
- I'm retiring. What kind of health insurance do I need?
- I can't make sense of my Medicare statements and medical bills. What do I do next?
- Do I need a Medicare supplement policy?
- How can I help my parents with health insurance?
- There's an error on my bill and I don't know what to do.
SHIIP is available to help if you:
- Are going on Medicare
- Are age 65 or older and on Medicare
- Are on Medicare because of a disability, end stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig's disease.
SHIIP volunteers are available by appointment at UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown by calling (641) 754-5399. Please bring your insurance card(s) and a list of your current medications. The SHIIP office is located on the first floor of the hospital.
History & Training
The State of Iowa started SHIIP in 1990 in response to the statewide need for senior health insurance information. UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown SHIIP program continues to be among one of the top performing in the State of Iowa. Counselors undergo an intensive initial training and shadowing and experienced SHIIP counselor to enable them to provide quality service to our clients. In addition to the initial training, counselors receive quarterly training throughout the year to stay up-to-date on important Medicare events, changes in programs, Medicare website updates and any additional issues that affect service to Medicare beneficiaries.
Sponsor Coordinators remain in close contact with the state office each year to discuss important program changes, volunteer recruitment and management, and ways to improve their programs.
Medicare Part D Open Enrollment
Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment occurs yearly from October 15 & December 7. This is the annual period during which Medicare plan enrollees can reevaluate their coverage, whether it's Original Medicare with drug coverage, or Medicare Advantage and make changes if they want to do so. Changes are effective on January 1.