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RSVP helps seniors make sense of health insurance programs

Nonprofit SpotlightKay VasilakisGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kay Vasilakis
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Health insurance. Two little words that can send shivers up someone’s spine. And trying to understand Medicare and Medicaid can test patience as well as the strength of one’s attention span. Some questions can knock you for a loop and send your head spinning. What do Medicare Parts A, B, and D cover? Is there a Medicare Part C? What is it? Do I need a Medigap policy? What are the differences between HMOs, PPOs, PFFS Plans and Medicare Cost Plans? High Country RSVP is looking for volunteers to take training to help seniors understand these issues. Volunteers will be trained for State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Programs (SHIP) from Sept. 23-25, and trainees will provide services to help seniors needing free information and assistance about Medicare and Medicaid services.The purpose of the SHIP program is not to recommend or endorse anything, but to assist consumers in making informed insurance choices. SHIP programs provide information to Medicare beneficiaries and their families and/or caregivers, individual counseling and assistance, public education presentations about Medicare and related health insurance and Medicare fraud. The SHIP counselors help consumers understand Medicare benefits, help organize and understand medical bills, identify gaps in Medicare coverage, understand Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap), understand how to evaluate Medicare supplemental insurance options and Medicaid assistance for people on Medicare, help evaluate who is eligible for “Extra Help” (low income assistance), understand long-term care insurance options, help beneficiaries understand hospital and Medicare rights, and assist in filing Medicare appeals.The High Country RSVP affiliate can be accessed by calling (970) 384-8744. This is a message-only line where messages are retrieved. Once a phone call comes into the phone line, a trained counselor on the RSVP staff will decide which counselor will handle the case. This is determined by the specialty needed to resolve a particular issue and which counselor is scheduled to handle incoming phone calls that day. The counselor will gather as much information as possible, research the issue, and make contact with appropriate department or insurance company. The counselor will then either counsel via telephone and/or in a face-to-face meeting. Volunteers may volunteer as much as they want, depending on both demand of clients and also how many volunteers are in the program. Anyone wishing to take the SHIP training is encouraged to contact RSVP at 947-9462 or 947-8461. Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column appears every other Wednesday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her with a news tip, call 384-9118 or e-mail kay@postindependent.com.


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