By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer
REGION – SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) – a name that aligns with the organization’s mission to light the way for elders and their caregivers – was established in 1985 to provide counseling for those seeking elder health care. The SHINE program includes a network of health care benefit counselors who ensure that Massachusetts residents with Medicare or those about to join Medicare and their caregivers have access to accurate, unbiased and up-to-date information about their health care options. Counselors are just a call away ready to help you with free guidance through the process.
With our complex and constantly changing health care system, SHINE can be a lifesaver. Counselors can help in many ways, such as reviewing your present coverage and providing written comparisons of plans. They can protect Medicare beneficiaries from paying for bills they should not pay, help with claim forms and with applications. They can also review programs to help people with limited income to pay health care costs.
Getting answers to your questions
If you are turning 65 and have questions about your health insurance, you probably have questions about enrollment in Medicare A and B, what Medicare covers and what your out-of-pocket medical costs might be. That’s exactly how SHINE can help. Their counselors are experts on answering these types of questions.
These are the questions most often asked:
- How much will Medicare Part A and B cost?
- What costs am I responsible for if I do not select a Medicare supplement?
- What exactly does Medicare A cover and what does Medicare B cover?
- How can I lower my prescription drug costs?
- What is the difference between a Medicare supplement and a Medicare Advantage Plan?
- If I continue to work beyond age 65, can I keep my employer group health plan?
- How do I enroll in Medicare A and B?
- What happens if Medicare doesn’t pay for labs or healthcare services ordered by my physician?
- If I’m living on a fixed, low income, are there any other programs that can help me reduce my healthcare costs?
It’s pretty likely to see one or all the questions you may have about Medicare in that list above. SHINE counselors ready with the answers.
A national leader
Since its inception the SHINE Program has been considered a national leader among state health insurance assistance programs. As explained on the SHINE website, these Medicare counselors – most of them volunteers – have been extensively trained and are recertified annually by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. There are also specially-trained volunteers who can help those with limited English proficiency.
Said Elaine Miller, Minuteman Senior Services Regional SHINE Program Director, “Our counseling could not be achieved without the commitment of a very special group of volunteer counselors, along with our in-house staff.”
Miller finds this kind of work very rewarding. She says the best part of her job is working with people one on one.
“The most satisfying thing about my work,” said Miller, “is problem solving with consumers, case managers and family members to connect people to the best possible supplement and Part D drug plan based on each unique situation.”
To get help:
Go to: https://shinema.org/about-us.
Call: 800-243-4636 and choose option #4.
For those in Worcester County call: 508-422-9931.
Or email: SHINE@state.ma.us.
At this time, face-to-face appointments are not available.