NJ Human Services Awards Grant to Boost SHIP Program in Burlington County Ahead of Medicare Enrollment Period

September 14, 2022

(TRENTON)With the 2023 Medicare Open Enrollment Period set to start on October 15, Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced that Senior Citizens United Community Services, Inc. (SCUCS) will coordinate the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) in Burlington County.

SHIP is a federally-funded, state-administered program that offers free, one-on-one education and assistance to current and eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers regarding Medicare and other related health insurance programs, through SHIP counselors who are trained and certified by the Department’s Division of Aging Services.

With SCUCS serving in Burlington County, all 21 counties now have SHIP coordinators. For a list of local SHIP offices with contact information, click here.

“The annual enrollment period for Medicare runs from October 15 through December 7. This is the time when people can sign up for a plan, switch to a new plan, or leave a plan. We encourage current or eligible Medicare beneficiaries in Burlington County and throughout New Jersey who have questions about their benefits or health coverage options to reach out to their local SHIP office and to take advantage of this free assistance,” said Commissioner Adelman.

“SHIP counselors are available five days a week to answer questions at no cost. They provide information and assistance so that individuals can make informed decisions about what works best for them. Anyone who needs help this coming Medicare enrollment period should call their local SHIP office,” said Deputy Commissioner for Aging and Disability Services Kaylee McGuire.

“SHIP counselors can help older residents navigate the complexities of Medicare and educate them on federal and state programs that help with health and drug costs. We are glad Burlington County residents will now have a local office that they can call for help with their Medicare-related questions. If someone is offering to assist you for a charge, please know free assistance is available near you from an official SHIP counselor,” said Division of Aging Services Director Louise Rush.

The Department awarded a competitive $40,000 grant to SCUCS to coordinate the SHIP program in Burlington County between September 1, 2022 through March 31, 2023.

The agency will be the primary point of contact for current and eligible Medicare beneficiaries along with their caregivers in Burlington County who have questions about Medicare.

SHIP counselors are either volunteer or professional-level staff members. There are 425 individuals in New Jersey who the Division of Aging Services has certified as SHIP counselors. In Burlington County, the roster for SCUCS currently includes ten counselors, all of whom are volunteers.

The agency will have a designated county SHIP Coordinator, who will be responsible for administering the program, managing the existing SHIP counselors, receiving and assigning referrals, promoting the program, and completing and submitting quarterly reports to the Department.

The agency will be required to conduct community outreach to promote SHIP services to Medicare beneficiaries of all ages throughout the county through agency partnerships and other available channels; and host a Medicare Education and Enrollment Event this year to assist beneficiaries and caregivers during the 2023 Medicare Annual Election Period.

In addition to Medicare, open enrollment for the state exchange, employer-sponsored plans, and Medicaid starts on November 1. Visit GetCovered.NJ.gov for more information.