• Brandon Davis

Have you ever had a question concerning Medicare, but not sure about who to turn to for the answers? Tired of all the advertisements from various plans ALWAYS trying to sell you something? Need some local advice how to protect your Medicare benefits from suspected Medicare fraud, abuse or errors?

There are two (2) local programs that are federally funded to help answer your questions and offer some advice to protecting your Medicare benefits!

The first program is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (known as “SHIP”). It is a program of dedicated, certified, and trained counselors. These counselors have gone through intensive training on the various parts of Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, and Medicare Supplements policies (known as Medigaps). Our SHIP counselors understand that circumstances differ between one beneficiary and another. Even if you are currently working, have job insurance, and are eligible for Medicare, we can help provide advice on your options. If you are transitioning from Medicaid to Medicare due to eligibility, SHIP can provide next-step advice to you on making that transition as smooth as possible. Whether you are thinking about Medicare, already enrolled, or have a question for a friend or family member, we can help you find the answer to these questions!

The second program is the Senior Medicare Patrol (also known as “SMP”) which provides advice and education to people with Medicare and caregivers to protect beneficiaries from suspected fraud, errors and abuse. The purpose of the Senior Medicare Patrol is to empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to protect, detect and report health care fraud, errors and abuse. If you are new to Medicare or currently enrolled, it’s NEVER too late to learn how to protect and safeguard your healthcare benefits. This program can help equip you on how to protect healthcare information (i.e. your Medicare card and number). Your Medicare Summary Notice is a quarterly record from your plan displaying where you used your Medicare card for services. It may say “This is NOT a bill” but it’s important to take a few minutes to review it to make sure there are not any errors! Lastly, the Senior Medicare Patrol serves as a local resource for you to report any suspected Medicare fraud or insurance agent marketing violations (e.g., uninvited calls or visits).

These two programs are at NO COST to you and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Insurance.

Brandon Davis is the Program Director at Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.

Please join us for our next virtual online presentation at 10 a.m. on Feb. 3, when Davis will present about these programs and how they can help answer your Medicare questions. For additional information please visit www.drcog.org/SHIP or call SHIP at 1-888-696-7213.

This column is hosted by the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County. For more information, please visit www.MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLife@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.