Governor Quinn Highlights Illinois’ Free Medicare Counseling Service

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–November 16, 2010. On Monday, Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed the week of November 15-19 as Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) Week in Illinois, highlighting the nearly 300,000 hours of free counseling provided by SHIP volunteers to Illinois’ Medicare beneficiaries.

“People across Illinois have trouble applying for the medical care they are need because of the complexity of Medicare options and application procedures,” said Governor Quinn. “I salute the Illinois Department of Insurance and its committed volunteers for their efforts to help our seniors and persons with disabilities get the health coverage they deserve.”

The Senior Health Insurance Program began in the Illinois Department of Insurance in 1988 to educate Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers about Medicare insurance options through a network of community organizations, senior citizen centers and the media. Today, more than 700 trained SHIP volunteers staff more than 180 sites across Illinois to educate our most vulnerable residents about available Medicare insurance options throughout the year.

“SHIP volunteers will play an especially important role during this year’s open enrollment period by helping beneficiaries understand the enhanced benefits provided by the national health reform law,” said Michael T. McRaith, Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance. “I thank Governor Quinn for his recognition of the important, yet often unnoticed, work our SHIP volunteers do.”

The Illinois Department on Aging works closely in partnership with the SHIP program to ensure that older adults understand and receive benefits.

“I join in thanking the hundreds of SHIP volunteers who work in senior centers across Illinois to help older adults get the best health care, drug coverage, and other important benefits that help them live full, productive lives,” said Charles Johnson, Director of the Illinois Department on Aging.

In addition to the year-round services provided by SHIP volunteers, the Illinois Department of Insurance is conducting a series of free, one-on-one counseling sessions throughout the state to assist Medicare-eligible individuals with the Medicare open-enrollment season, which runs this year from November 15 – December 31.

A list of these events, along with more information about the SHIP program and a list of local SHIP volunteers, can be found on the Illinois Department of Insurance’s website at or by calling the SHIP toll-free hotline at 1(800) 548-9034.