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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2011

State Launches Free, One-on-One Medicare Counseling Sessions Statewide During Early Medicare Open Enrollment Season
Gov. Quinn Proclaims Oct 10th-15th as Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) Week; Highlights State’s Volunteer Effort to Help Elderly, Persons with Disabilities

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Insurance today announced free counseling sessions at more than 25 locations statewide to help thousands of seniors and people with disabilities learn more about Medicare insurance coverage and how to apply for benefits.  The Department’s Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) volunteers will be on site to provide one-on-one assistance during the Medicare open-enrollment season, which this year falls on October 15th through December 7th.  Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed this week, October 10 – 15, 2011, as “SHIP Week” in Illinois to applaud the volunteer effort and to help remind Medicare-eligible residents that open-enrollment begins sooner this year.

“Especially during the open enrollment season, many Illinois residents have questions about Medicare and how to apply for a plan that best meet their healthcare needs,” said Acting Director Jack Messmore.  “I am proud of the dedicated SHIP volunteers who help seniors and people with disabilities navigate through the Medicare application process and towards obtaining necessary healthcare coverage.”

SHIP assists Illinoisans who have questions about or problems with Medicare, Medicare supplemental insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans (HMO, PPO, and PFFS), Medicare claims and appeals, prescription drug coverage through Medicare and other sources, and long term care insurance.  Throughout the year, hundreds of trained SHIP volunteers staff 204 sites in every county to help elderly residents learn more about available Medicare insurance options.  Since SHIP’s inception, volunteers have provided nearly 700,000 hours of counseling, assisted  more than 900,000 clients, and saved Medicare beneficiaries an estimated $75 million in customer service costs.       

In addition to the year-round services provided by SHIP volunteers, the Illinois Department of Insurance is conducting a series of free, one-on-one counseling sessions throughout the state to assist Medicare-eligible individuals with the Medicare open-enrollment season, which runs this year from October 15th – December 7th.

A list of upcoming SHIP events during open-enrollment season is available on the Department’s website at Insurance.Illinois.gov/SHIP or by calling the SHIP toll-free hotline at (800) 548-9034.



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