SHIP Assists Seniors with Medicare, Prescription Plan Decisions

pcacs-SHIPThe State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides free and impartial counseling on Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, Medicare managed care plans and Medicaid as well as helps seniors find assistance with prescription drug costs.

“While RSVP of Porter County has been consolidated with other regions and now is housed at the United Way, Porter County Aging and Community Services offices remain an RSVP station site and we will continue coordinating SHIP,” said Bruce Lindner, PCACS executive director. “Our trained SHIP volunteers have the knowledge and expertise to help guide seniors through decisions.”

With the retirement of former RSVP director Joyce Bolin, the SHIP program is now led by volunteer Ginger Brockwehl and coordinated by volunteers Tom Murphy and Deborah Brann.

“When you turn 65 you are eligible for Medicare, you need to understand how Medicare is different than other health insurance,” Brockwehl said. “There are a lot of options you need to consider when you go on Medicare. There are different plans to help supplement. A prescription drug plan is one component. Basic Medicare does not cover everyday medications.”

The volunteers also offer continuing support for those who are already on Medicare.

“The thing we stress the most is to just do a review of your drug plan every year to make sure you are on the best plan for the upcoming year. There can be prices changes for co-pays and monthly premiums and sometimes prescription drugs get dropped,” Brockwehl said. “Without an annual review, you could be in for a rude awakening the first time you pick up your prescription in the new year.”

The staff’s knowledge is bolstered by two training sessions a year to spotlight what is new. Initially, volunteers have hours of training and then on-the-job experience by shadowing a skilled counselor.

“Our main purpose is to inform and help them make a choice. I feel like I have done a good job when somebody says, ‘Now I understand. You have helped me through this maze of difficult decisions,” Brockwehl said.

Programs that offer savings include the Medicare Savings Program, which can assist with Standard Part B premiums and Part A and Part B deductibles and co-pays; Extra Help, which can assist with Monthly Part D (prescription drug plan) premiums and deductibles as well as reduce co-pays; and Hoosier Rx, which can help pay the monthly Part D premium.

To discuss program eligibility or receive assistance with filling out applications, contact SHIP at (219) 464-9736 Ext. 216 or (219) 464-1028 or via email at

PCACS’ mission is to extend a helping hand to seniors, those with disabilities and low-income residents by providing services to improve their quality of life, including transportation, nutrition programs, energy assistance and activity centers.

For more information, visit