Agency saves local residents $350,546 – ​​InsuranceNewsNet


DOBSON — The State’s Senior Citizens Health Insurance Information Program was established in 1986 to provide a link between senior citizens and their health coverage and continues to pay off big in Surry County.

This included $350,546 savings for the 211 Surry consumers helped by this agency in 2021 through the local office of the Elderly Health Insurance Information Program, the NC Cooperative Extension unit based in Dobson.

Many retirees and Medicare beneficiaries on fixed incomes want to save money wherever they can. And officials of the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, aka SHIIP – a division of the NC Department of Insurance — report that each year, thousands of people across the state contact this agency to help them identify savings in their Medicare coverages.

It was started nearly 40 years ago by the late Jim Longthen North Carolina Insurance Commissioner, to provide a link between senior citizens and information about their health coverage.

The beauty of the concept involved is that, unlike some entities that claim to provide useful information to consumers, but actually want to sell policies to them, SHIIP advisors are completely unbiased. They are not licensed insurance agents and do not sell, endorse or oppose any product, plan or company.

People with questions about their specific plans are always encouraged to contact their insurance agents or relevant companies.

Strong local interest

The Elderly Health Insurance Information Program is particularly suited to a county like Surry, where 21% of residents are aged 65 and over, more than the country as a whole.

This was highlighted during a “Welcome to Medicare” program the agency hosted on June 9 to NC Cooperative Extension office in Dobson. It drew “a good crowd”, according to Carmen Longan area extension officer for family and consumer education in Surry and Alleghany counties.

The Senior Citizens Health Insurance Information Program helps people with questions about Medicare, Medicare Part D, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and long-term care insurance.

Throughout the year, but especially during Medicare’s open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7Medicare beneficiaries are encouraged to compare their existing coverage for the Part D prescription drug plan to determine if their current plan is still the most appropriate for the coming year.

Each year, forms, prices, and programs change, and often the Medicare beneficiary is unaware of the differences.

The Senior Citizens Health Insurance Information Program also helps citizens recognize and prevent Medicare billing errors and possible fraud and abuse through the NC Senior Medicare Patrol program.

People with questions about Medicare or the Extra Help program — which helps people with limited income and resources pay Medicare prescription drug costs — can contact SHIIP at 1-855-408-1212 to speak to a qualified adviser or request a free brochure.

Contact details for local coordination sites in each county of North Carolina can also be found by visiting

In 2021, SHIIP and its statewide coordinating sites helped 58,000 consumers, saving them $30 million. In addition, nearly 1,500 consumers received help applying for the Extra Help program.

So far in 2022, the agency has helped 12,371 people, which translates to $1.4 million in cost savings.


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