Northwest Tennessee SHIP

Free, Non-Biased Medicare Counseling, Information, and Assistance 






 (State Health Insurance Assistance Program)

SHIP is a national program that provides free and objective one-on-one counseling, information distribution and assistance to people with Medicare, potential Medicare consumers, their families and other advocates by community-based, grassroots network of local SHIP offices via telephone and face-to-face interactive sessions, public education and presentations and programs and media activities.  SHIP generated from the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990 when Congress standardized Medicare Supplement, or Medigap insurance so that plans would be easier for consumers to evaluate as they were shopping for coverage.

TN SHIP began in 1992 and has grown from a one-topic consumer counseling program to one that covers a multitude of topics and issues. Topics typically addressed are on Medicare and Medicaid (TENNCARE in Tennessee), Medigap, enrollment in Medicare prescription drug plans, (Part D), and the accompanying Low-Income Subsidy, find help with the cost of prescription drugs during coverage gaps and access to drugs not covered under Part D, Medicare Advantage options, long-term care planning and insurance, claims and billing problem resolution, information and referral on public benefit programs, employer and retiree health insurance options for those with Medicare and VA benefits and other military health insurance for those with Medicare.

TN SHIP may not endorse any insurance company, agency, agent or plan--to the extent that we are prohibited from making even the appearance of an endorsement. Whereas, other entities offering education or assistance regarding Medicare are most often motivated by potential sales, the SHIP's goal is solely to help consumers make informed decisions.

                   Health Insurance Assistance


More than 50 million Americans are enrolled in the Medicare program, 42 million of those aged age 65 or older. Despite both its popularity and reach, the Medicare program is complex and a source of confusion for many people.

In fact, a recent survey found that most current beneficiaries could not correctly identify the health care expenses covered by Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. The information gap was even wider for boomer respondents, with 70 percent describing their understanding of Medicare as ?fair? or ?poor;? more than half said they ?wouldn?t know where to begin? to transition from employer-sponsored health insurance to Medicare. With baby boomers turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 people every day, the need for accurate, unbiased information about this vital benefit has never been more crucial.

One of the ways the federal government helps consumers make decisions about their own Medicare coverage is through the funding of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Each state operates a statewide SHIP program, usually run by the state unit on aging or the insurance commission. At the local level, most especially in states where the program starts at the state unit, a majority of AAAs (60 percent) serve as the local SHIP. In 2014, the federal SHIP program authority moved from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

SHIP counselors and volunteers interact directly with clients to offer one-on-one counseling and assistance via telephone and face-to-face interactive sessions, public education presentations and programs, and media activities. For example, a SHIP counselor may help a client figure out which Medicare Part D prescription drug plan makes the most sense for her particular circumstances. This direct health insurance counseling empowers older adults to make informed benefit decisions that will strengthen their ability to live healthy and independent lives.

AAAs, even those who do not operate the local SHIP program, conduct proactive outreach to their communities by inviting prospective and existing Medicare beneficiaries to attend classes and other public education events that cover all the bases?from the basic benefits to other insurance options.


National SHIP Resource Center