Good help is hard to find. Especially if it's free.
When it comes to our aging parents' insurance--Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care or life products--we Boomers may need help to understand the benefits and clarify the issues. All the better if the advisor is well trained, doesn't charge a fee and won't try to sell us something we don't need.
Such qualified, impartial advisors are just a call or a visit away, thanks to a nationwide government-funded network called State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPS). Specially trained in senior health insurance issues, the counselors can answer your questions and help you understand your health care choices.
Besides consulting one-on-one on the phone or in person, they also give group presentations on insurance-related topics.
You might call a SHIPS advisor if you're:
1. Choosing a Medicare policy for your parent and need advice.
2. Considering purchasing a long-term care policy for your parent or yourself, and wonder what questions to ask.
3. Purchasing a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan and need help comparing the various plans.
4. Having trouble making sense of your parent's Medicare statements and medical bills.
SHIPS operate under slightly different names in all 50 states. In Washington State, for example, the program is called Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA). For information on a program in your state, visit the SHIPS page on the Medicare website.