Friday, April 05, 2013
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State's Senior Health Insurance Program moves to Department on Aging

SHIP provides seniors & people with disabilities help with insurance options

Call 800-548-9034 or visit

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[April 05, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Department on Aging Director John K. Holton, Ph.D., announced this week that the Senior Health Insurance Program is now administered by his department. The program known at SHIP is a free statewide health insurance counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. SHIP was previously under the Department of Insurance, but the governor signed Executive Order 13-1, which transfers SHIP to the Department on Aging, effective April 1.

"The Department on Aging is well-positioned to support the expanding role of SHIP in assisting older adults and individuals with disabilities make information health care decisions. SHIP counseling is a natural extension of many of our existing services, so it makes sense for the program to be under the department," Holton said. "There are more than 190 existing local SHIP offices statewide, with dedicated counselors who work hard to educate people about Medicare and available insurance options."

SHIP is a year-round program, not affiliated with any insurance company, and counselors do not sell or solicit any type of insurance. SHIP counselors in the field make sure seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare are aware of options that can save them money. Counselors educate and answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Supplement, long-term care insurance, Medicare HMOs, private fee-for-service and other health insurance. They also organize and assist with filing Medicare and Medicare Supplement claims and analyze Medicare Supplement and long-term care policies.

"We are excited for SHIP to become a part of the Illinois Department on Aging," said Elizabeth Diaz-Castillo, SHIP director. "With the transition we expect to increase our education and outreach efforts to assist more Medicare beneficiaries understand and utilize their benefits."

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The state's SHIP program has been recognized for exemplary performance and outreach strategies. Last year, Illinois ranked No. 1 nationwide for most improved overall SHIP performance and ranked seventh among the 54 SHIPs nationwide.

The SHIP phone number is 800-548-9034. A list of SHIP volunteers is available at


The mission of the Illinois Department on Aging is to serve and advocate for older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering quality and culturally appropriate programs that promote partnerships and encourage independence, dignity and quality of life. For more information, call the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 (or, for the hearing-impaired, TTY 888-206-1327) or visit

[Text from Illinois Department on Aging file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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