Understanding Insurance

These three organizations can help you locate the benefits that apply to the elder in your care. They will help you save valuable time in learning the health care insurance system.

  1. Medicare Rights Center is an independent source of state-specific information on Medicare and other health care coverage issues. Its Web site offers an interactive search called "MI Counselor" that walks you through the qualification process. You can also call the consumer hotline at 800-333-4114 toll free. A Medicare counselor can answer your questions about health insurance choices, Medicare rights and protections, dealing with payment denials or appeals, complaints about care or treatment, and Medicare bills.
  2. The National Council on Aging provides a "Benefits Checkup" on its Web site. It's a fast, free, and confidential screening tool to determine eligibility for nearly 1,000 unique state and federal programs, as well as detailed instruction on how to apply for these programs.
  3. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is a national program that offers one-on-one counseling and assistance. Every state provides free counseling and assistance by telephone or in person on a wide range of Medicare and Medicaid matters, including health plan options, long-term care insurance, claims and billing problem resolution, and information and referral on public benefit programs for those with limited income and assets. To locate the program in your state, go to the SHIP Web site or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) toll free and ask for health insurance counseling for your area.

Additional Information for Specific States

Below, you'll find additional state-specific information on health insurance and/or long-term care insurance. The states included have high percentages of elders and/or high elder populations.


The Alabama Department of Insurance publishes a "Shopper's Guide for Health Insurance for Senior Citizens" which offers information on health insurance and can be found at:


The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) has over 600 counselors to assist elders and their family with Medicare and other long-term health insurance. The service is confidential and free of charge; for more information call 1-800-434-0222.


Florida operates SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs for Elders), which provides educational materials and free unbiased insurance counseling to Florida elders, caregivers and family members.


The Illinois Division of Insurance sponsors the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP), a free statewide health insurance counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers.


The Michigan Department of Community Health has a section of its website devoted to explaining Medicaid and the various Michigan Medicaid Health Plans.


The Nevada SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) provides information, counseling and assistance regarding many problems seniors encounter regarding Medicare, supplemental health insurance and long-term care options. For more information call 1-800-307-4444 or visit its website

New York

New York offers information about health insurance through HIICAP (Health Insurance Information, Counseling, and Assistance Program). To speak to a trained counselor call the NYS-HIICAP Hotline at 1-800-701-0501.


General information for seniors on health care insurance can be found at the Ohio Long-Term Care Consumer Guide.


Long term care insurance can be found at the Insurance Department of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


The Texas Department of Insurance offers general information to seniors on health insurance.

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