State Health Insurance Assistance Program
One of the key agencies the Ombudsman Program works with, and often refers individuals to, is the West Virginia State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) which is a program of the WV Bureau of Senior Services. It is housed at the Bureau’s main office in Charleston and in many county senior centers throughout WV. SHIP is a federally funded program which “provides free, objective and confidential help to West Virginia Medicare beneficiaries.” SHIP counselors provide information about:
- Medicare eligibility and benefits,
- Medicare prescription drug plan and Medicare savings plans,
- Medigap (Medicare supplemental plans),
- Medicare Advantage plans,
- Long-term care insurance plans,
- Durable medical equipment suppliers,
- Preventive services,
- Nursing home and home health care provider comparisons,
- Medicare fraud,
- How to order a new Medicare card, and
- How to find a doctor.
Their website is very informative and includes Medicare Supplement Plans and Monthly Rate comparisons which are updated regularly, Medicare costs for Parts A, B and D and a direct link to the Nursing Home Compare website which allows the reader the chance to see how a nursing home has been rated in comparisons to other nursing homes in that area. The state SHIP office can be reached by phone at 304-558-3317 or 877-987-4463.