Medicare and SHIP

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This page has information about our agency’s mission and programs. To get help enrolling in Medicare, please visit our resource site GetCareSC.com.

Our Programs

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides free, in depth, one-on-one insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries, their families, friends, and caregivers. SHIP is a grant-funded project of the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL).

SHIP Counselors answer questions about Medicare and assist people in obtaining coverage through options that include the Original Medicare program, Medicare Advantage (Part C) Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plans, and programs designed to help people with limited incomes pay for their health care, such as Medicaid, the Medicare Savings Program, and the Low Income Subsidy. SHIP Counselors also help people compare Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) insurance policies and explain how these and other supplemental insurance options -- such as insurance plans for retirees -- work with Medicare.

Successes

SHIP provides critical resources and expertise to federal partners.

  • In South Carolina SHIP Counslors help Medicare beneficiaries make choices among a vast array of options that include an average of more than 21 prescription drug plans, 16 Medicare Advantage plans, as well as various Medigap supplemental insurance policies.
  • SHIP Counselors also provide assistance with billing problems, appeal rights, and enrollment in low-income assistance programs. 

The Social Security Administration, CMS, 1-800-Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, local and state agencies and Congressional representatives and staff refer beneficiaries to SHIP. They include SHIPs in their websites, publications and correspondence to beneficiaries as the source of assistance when individuals need one-on-one assistance.

For more information or to volunteer please contact the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging at 1-800-868-9095 or your local Area Agency on Aging.

Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)

Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) empowers and assists Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling, and education. The SMP program engages over 5,000 volunteers nationally. SMP are grant-funded projects of the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL).

This work is in three main areas:

  • Conduct Outreach and Education
    The SMP gives presentations to groups, exhibits at events, and works one-on-one with Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Engage Volunteers
    Protecting older persons’ health, finances, and medical identity while saving precious Medicare dollars is a cause that attracts civic-minded Americans.
  • Receive Beneficiary Complaints
    When Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members bring their complaints to the SMP, the SMP makes a determination about whether or not fraud, errors, or abuse is suspected. When fraud or abuses are suspected, they make referrals to the appropriate state and federal agencies for further investigation.

For more information or to volunteer please contact the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging at 1-800-868-9095 or your local Area Agency on Aging.