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Helping Seniors Find Answers With SHIIP

National Council on Aging
National Council on Aging
Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) reaches out to seniors.

Older adults may not have complete information about their health insurance.  They may not know where -- or how -- to find correct answers. 

The Senior Health Insurance Information Program  (SHIIP),  a division within the Louisiana Department of Insurance, addresses questions and clarifications relating to Medicare, Medicaid, and long-term care insurance.

Vicky Dufrene, Insurance Manager at the Louisiana Department of Insurance, discussed some of the most common myths and misconceptions relating to senior health insurance.

Dufrene explained that some seniors may not think that they need Medicare because they are on employment-related health insurance.  According to her, these seniors actually do need to enroll in Medicare once they become eligible at age 65.  She urged them to visit the social security office to sign up for Medicare as soon as they become eligible.

Another misconception that Dufrene addressed was relating to insurance made possible by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA .  She explained that Social Security does not recognize COBRA as an extension of employment.  According to Dufrene, if an individual is Medicare-eligible then they should enroll in Medicare instead of applying for COBRA or they may be subjected to "lifetime penalties."

More information is available about Senior Health Insurance by contacting SHIIP or by attending one of their educational or counseling seminars.

Anita Sharma Ph.D., LCSW, is a Gerontology and Social Work Educator, Researcher, and Practitioner. She holds an M.A. in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a prestigious social sciences university in India, a Master of Social Work (clinical practice) and a Doctorate in Social Work from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Louisiana and serves as a pro bono consultant to various agencies.
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