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State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

SHIPTALK: The National SHIP Resource Center (exit DHS)

SHIP Volunteers

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) refers to a group of federal and state funded programs. These programs work together to provide assistance with public and private health insurance issues and options to Medicare beneficiaries or those soon to be Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers. SHIP has a centralized component of statewide assistance and a local component of county- and tribal-based benefit counselors.

The centralized component includes the Medigap Helpline (exit DHS), at 1-800-242-1060 that provides counseling on original Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, employer-based health insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, long term care insurance and related topics (a service of the Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care (exit DHS).

SHIP operates two toll-free assistance centers to help persons with the drug benefit under Part D of Medicare: the Wisconsin Medigap Part D and Prescription Drug Helpline for persons age 60 and older (1-855-677-2783); and the Disability Drug Benefit Helpline, operated by Disability Rights Wisconsin (exit DHS), primarily for persons under age 60 eligible for Medicare because of a disability (1-800-926-4862, 1-888-758-6049 TTY).

The local component of SHIP consists predominantly of the Elder Benefit Specialist Program and the Disability Benefit Specialist Program. Benefit specialists are well-trained local advocates who assist not only with Medicare issues but with other private and governmental benefits as well. Elder benefit specialists, who serve persons age 60 and above, are available for every county and tribe. Disability benefit specialists serve persons with a disability age 18 through 59. They are available in every county where there is a state-funded Aging and Disability Resource Center.

SHIP also provides benefits counseling through the Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind and use sign language as their primary language.

SHIP also funds education and individual health benefits assistance for Native American Medicare beneficiaries through the Indian Law Office of Wisconsin Judicare, Inc. (exit DHS) (1-800-472-1638) It also funds the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources (exit DHS) to provide assistance on Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare drug plans (1-877-333-0202) in Wisconsin.

Last Revised: July 18, 2014