Shortage of SHIIP counselors leaves questions unanswered

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Some Medicare recipients are having trouble scheduling an appointment with a Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) counselor this year. Appointments at the local sites filled quickly.

This might mean that some of your friends and family members who have questions about their Medicare coverage won’t have time to meet with someone before the open enrollment period closes Dec. 7.

SHIIP counselors are volunteers, and this season there haven’t been enough of them to go around. Volunteers eventually retire or move elsewhere. The result is a need in Dallas County for new SHIIP helpers.

You don’t have to be an expert on Medicare, finances or medical terms to become a SHIIP counselor. Training is provided, so you will be comfortable in the position. The qualifications SHIIP looks for are people with an ability to listen and solve problems, with organizational skills and an ability to keep information confidential.

It isn’t necessary for SHIIP counselors to be Medicare recipients – anyone over age 21 may volunteer.

Please consider becoming a SHIIP volunteer counselor so everyone who needs help next year can get in for an appointment during the open-enrollment period, from mid-October to early December. A volunteer application is available online.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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