During its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, June 16, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners were updated on the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).
“Right now, (in Ashe County) we have four counselors that are certified and are actually counseling people,” said Charles Caudill, a volunteer for Ashe Services for Aging. “We answer questions about Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare advantage plans, Medicare prescription drug plans… we’ll also talk about long-term care.”
Caudill said seniors from surrounding counties have come to Ashe to be counseled about SHIIP. In the last year, the Ashe County volunteers that work on SHIIP have counseled over 1,000 people.
“I’m guessing about 70 percent of the people who talk to us actually need to change plans,” Caudill said. “What’s really amazing is a lot of folks I have met think they are automatically assigned to a plan.”
The volunteers research plans and offer guidance to seniors on which meet their needs.
There are approximately 32 drug plans available for seniors in North Carolina. Open enrollment for 2014 will run from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
Last year, SHIIP volunteers in the county sponsored 35 events to inform seniors about its services.
“We are trying to get people to let us know (what they need) and get them to sign up for extra help if they need the income and meet the qualifications,” Caudill said.
The SHIIP program was established by the N.C. Department of Insurance in 1986 as part of a concern for health insurance for seniors in North Carolina.
The program works to counsel Medicare recipients and caregivers about their options. In addition to volunteers, people can also call the program’s toll-free number for information regarding Medicare.
“We are proud to help out the people in Ashe County and surrounding counties with this program,” Caudill said. “It’s one of the most important things I’ve ever done. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your income is or what, we help try to save money for everybody.”
Commissioner Larry Rhodes thanked Caudill for his presentation and his dedication to the SHIIP program.
“(Caudill) is a professional volunteer,” he said. “He loves his work and he does it well.”
For more information on SHIIP, go to http://www.ncdoi.com/shiip or contact 1-800-443-9354.
To get in touch with an Ashe County SHIIP volunteer, call (336) 246-2461.
The next meeting of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners will take place at 1 p.m. on Monday, July 7.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.