David Shenk is the Erie County Senior Services Commissioner and he joins us today to talk about HIICAP. HIICAP stands for Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program. It is a federally funded counseling and assistance program. It was started nationally in 1993 and is administered here by Erie County Senior Services. The coordinator here is Bill Daniels and he has been doing this for a number of years. Mel asked David what the benefits of this program are. David explains it like this. Let’s say you are buying a car or a new cell phone and your talking to a salesperson and they want to sell you their product. They are not going to tell you why you shouldn’t get it. What Bill does is he reaches out to all the local health insurance programs that offer Medicare programs and gets all the information on those plans so then when it comes time for you to choose Medicare health insurance or supplemental insurances, your Part C and Part D, he has all the information at his finger tips and that way he can advise you on a program that is best for you. Sometimes you’re getting your insurance from a former employer, or through the VA or through a private plan like Medicare Advantage or Medicaid. They help you figure out which one is best for you. Whatever your healthcare needs are today, they can change. You could be diagnosed with a new illness or one of your prescriptions could skyrocket or you could be put on new medications. With those changing things, you need to revisit. It like how a lot of people, on a regular basis, will check out different cell phone plans or car insurances to see what is best for them. David Shenk says it’s no different when it comes to your Medicare health plan. Some of the gaps are like coinsurance which is the 20% of your medical costs; sometimes the first day of your hospital stay is not covered; or vision, or dental and medical and prescription copays. So there all these different things that may not be covered so the HICCAP helps fill in all those gaps.
Mel asked David Shenk what are the steps that people need to take. He says to call 716-858-8526 which is their main intake number at Erie County Senior Services. Seniors should call this number at least once if not twice a year and ask for a total analysis of all the different programs they have, to figure out if there is something new that’s good for you and at the some point in that conversation you want to ask to be transferred to HIICAP and then you can talk to Bill and his team and they will help you figure out what is best for you. This is a free service provided by Erie County Senior Services and actually all their services are free.