Volunteers are needed to help individuals with Medicare issues

by | June 4, 2018 6:37 am

Medicare can be a daunting experience, with decisions to be made about which plans to pick, and the one applying must know what questions to ask and where to submit their forms.

This is where the State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help. SHIP is a volunteer organization funded by federal grant money and managed by the state to provide counseling and assistance to people who are ready, or nearly ready, to sign up for Medicare. Joshua Hunter, SHIP’s benefits and outreach volunteer coordinator, says they are looking for volunteers to help with the program.

Training for new volunteers will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m., June 12 and June 13, at the Upper Cumberland Development District, in Cookeville. Volunteers are asked to “work” two or three days a month.

“We try to stay flexible with what your interests are,” says Hunter. “There is a two-day training period, and we tailor the volunteer program around the individuals. We just ask that volunteers call ahead to let us know that you plan to attend the classes.”

White County’s volunteer SHIP advocate is Sylvia Kennedy. She recently held a class at White County Public Library for anyone about to traverse into Medicare, and she plans to have another class, in White County, in June, although the date has not yet been scheduled.

“It’s a Welcome to Medicare class,” says Kennedy. “If they come to the class or call me for a one-on-one appointment to help them sign up, I just ask that they please bring a complete list of all of their medications, including what the milligrams are and to please make sure they are all spelled correctly.”

Kennedy goes on to say that a lot of people simply need help choosing their Part D plan for Medicare. She states that most people need help on the choices they may have as to whether Medicare is their only option.

“Every couple of months I come to the Sparta Library, and I do what we call Medicare counseling,” says Kennedy. “What that means is, if someone needs help in either choosing their Part D plan or they are wanting to talk a little bit about their choices that they may have for going on Medicare, and at that time I work one-on-one with them.”

Kennedy explains that anyone seeking help can call the SHIP office, at (931) 476-4148, and there are people who will call back. Hunter will then forward the information to the volunteer who represents that person’s county. Hunter can also provide information for anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for SHIP or who needs to verify dates, times, and locations of classes.

“When (Joshua) sends me someone’s information,” says Kennedy. “I can usually help some people over the phone. We can go through everything without having to take my class. They just have to call the (SHIP) office and tell them what they want to do.”

Kennedy’s counseling classes will be announced in The Expositor as the information becomes available.

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