Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP)

Senior Health Insurance Program

The Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is a free state-wide health insurance counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers about available insurance options. SHIP is not affiliated with any insurance company and SHIP counselors do not sell or solicit any type of insurance.

Program Counselors

SHIP counselors are trained by the Illinois Department on Aging to:

  • Educate consumers and answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Supplement, long term care insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans, private fee-for-service and other health insurance;
  • Organize and assist in filing Medicare and Medicare Supplement claims; and
  • Analyze and compare Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D insurance plans

Counseling of the individual client focuses on specific information or assistance provided in one-on-one confidential sessions with certified counselors. Individual counseling sessions provide an effective way to objectively approach specific problems with claims and provide insurance policy analyses.

Counselors will also screen for Medicare benefit programs, Extra Help for prescription coverage and Medicaid programs.

SHIP services are available to current Medicare beneficiaries or those "new" to Medicare by appointment only through the Senior Services offices.

Medicare Part D

Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare Part D plans are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a SHIP counselor each year during the Annual Open Enrollment, October 15 through December 7 of every year. 

Part D plans change every year. Educate yourself about the changes to your current plan and decide if there is a different plan that provides you better coverage for your prescriptions or cost savings. Clients should bring a current up-to-date listing of their medications along with their Medicare card to your counseling appointment.

If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for extra help paying for your Medicare Part D coverage. The amount of extra help you are eligible for depends on your income and resources. If you qualify, you may not have to pay monthly premiums or deductibles for your prescription drug coverage and you pay very low co-payments or these amounts can be reduced. If you think you may qualify, bring in information regarding income and resource information to your Medicare Part D appointment.