Program offers health care assistance

By: Angela Beavin Email
By: Angela Beavin Email

People receiving health care benefits from public programs like Medicare and Medicaid can now find more help when they run in to problems. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers guidance to Eastern Kentuckians on finding the right health care plan, and what to do if a public option is not available.

Millions of Americans depend on government-funded health care, but finding the right plan can be a challenge. SHIP can help. SHIP Director of Aging Services says, "It's essentially a program to offer people assistance with their public benefits, such as Medicare, Medicaid; helping people determine what benefits are right for them, what benefits they're eligible for."

The program offers counseling, helps with claims, and provides prescription assistance for the uninsured. SHIP Coordinator Jennifer Lee-Woods says, "We can tell people what medications are covered, how much they're going to cost, what the monthly premium, deductible and all that's going to be."

While SHIP works with people who do qualify for public health care, they also help people who find themselves ineligible for government benefits. Lee-woods says even if someone cannot receive Medicaid, there still are options. "There is a program through Social Security," she says, "that can help them pay their monthly drug premium. They won't have the doughnut hole or the gap--they won't have that at all, and their prescriptions, if approved, won't be over six dollars."

Frederick says more people than ever are contacting SHIP for help because of the economic situation, leaving the program needing more assistance, too. "Our counselor covers eight counties, so there are times when some of our beneficiaries have to wait a few days before we can schedule to be in a county to meet with those folks," she says.

SHIP wants to help as many people as they can get the medical attention they need. For more information on SHIP assistance, or to find out how to become involved with the program, go to or, or call the Cumberland Valley Area Development District for the local SHIP program, at (606) 864-7391.

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