Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Southwest Ohio

OSHIIP Volunteers
A Class Apart

Are you a good listener? Do friends and family turn to you for help and advice? Do you have the patience to let a frustrated person talk it out? Can you see through highly-emotional matters to address the core issue?

Are you the type of person who can't learn enough about the world today? Do the people you hold close count on you for information because they know you stay up-to-date? Can you communicate in simple and clear terms when explaining complex matters to others?

In your inner circle, are you considered to be a “go-to” individual? If so, you know the great feeling that comes with helping people. You know how simply sharing information can empower others.

And if you're that person, OSHIIP has an opportunity you can't pass up.

What is OSHIIP?

OSHIIP is the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program and our mission is helping people covered by Medicare. More than 800 Ohioans currently volunteer as counselors with OSHIIP. Through this statewide network of certified, local volunteer counselors – and a variety of other means, including a national toll-free consumer helpline – OSHIIP offers information and assistance to people covered by Medicare, their families and caregivers.

Since the program began in 1992, OSHIIP has assisted more than 700,000 people and saved Ohio consumers more than $3.6 million.

OSHIIP is a free service provided by the Ohio Department of Insurance.

How do I get started?

Our initial training sessions for new volunteer counselors are regularly scheduled at convenient locations around the state. This initial OSHIIP training consists of four days (usually the same day each week for four consecutive weeks) for a total of 20 hours.

Once you complete these 20 hours, you'll be certified to counsel Medicare beneficiaries. You'll also know more about Medicare than most people ever will!

About 30 days later, your training class will meet with your trainer briefly once more to talk about what you've encountered in the field and what OSHIIP can do to better help you counsel people on Medicare.

What can I anticipate in the field?

You can expect consumers to ask any and all questions about Medicare, benefits and coverage under the Medicare program, and health plans that work with Medicare.

It's a good chance you'll meet clients who have limited finances and have trouble paying their Medicare medical and prescription costs. We can help them find assistance through programs from Ohio and the U.S. government. OSHIIP will provide you with updated information through email and publications to keep you current. Depending on the specific situation, you might simply direct a person with limited finances to the appropriate agency. But it's also possible the individual may require your assistance in completing the application.

You'll likely be able to answer most consumer questions right away. Once in awhile you may get a more complicated case that can require research. You won't be alone! Other volunteers, especially the OSHIIP coordinator responsible for your county, are always happy to help another counselor. The OSHIIP trainer who looks after your county will be another valuable resource, as is the volunteer toll-free helpline.

What do I get out of it?

We hear it from our volunteer counselors all the time: they achieve tremendous satisfaction from the work. How? They help a client who doesn't know a needed service or treatment is completely covered by Medicare. They inform a person who can't afford to pay Medicare's monthly Part B premium about available assistance. They work with a beneficiary who may not understand how to identify the Medicare health plan that's best for the person's needs. They may even act as a consumer advocate during the Medicare appeals process.

As a volunteer counselor, you'll also get knowledge. You'll be an expert in Medicare, related private health plans and other health insurance issues affecting people on Medicare.

Plus, you'll get to know some of the most caring people in our state: OSHIIP volunteers!

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