SHIP Mates is an outreach program that partners the Ohio Department of Insurance Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) with selected hospitals. Here are the hospitals in the program:
- Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster
- Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers in Bryan
- Harrison Community Hospital
- Mercy Medical Center in Canton
- Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk
- Trinity Health Systems in Stuebenville
OSHIIP trained volunteers visit Medicare patients to introduce the OSHIIP program as a resource for their insurance questions or concerns. When Medicare patients leave the hospital, they are given a SHIP Mates resource kit filled with helpful Medicare, OSHIIP and hospital information. The resource kit can also be used as an organizer for the voluminous paperwork that is sure to follow a hospital stay. There is no charge to the patient for the resource kit.
What is the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP)?
The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP), founded in 1992, is a state and federally funded program that educates, counsels and advocates for Medicare beneficiaries. OSHIIP assists Ohio Medicare beneficiaries and their family members through a toll free hotline at 1-800-686-1578, the Department web site, a speakers’ bureau, educational publications, and a network of approximately 700 statewide trained and certified volunteers.
What type of training is involved?
OSHIIP volunteers, who are called SHIP Mates under this program, are required to complete a 22-hour comprehensive training course about Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D, Medicare Supplement insurance and other health insurance related topics. Each SHIP Mate also receives training that focuses on the specifics of the project, hospital procedures and patient privacy. Also, a special session on the SHIP Mates project is available to hospital staff. All training sessions and training materials are offered at no cost to both the SHIP Mates and hospital staff.
How will the SHIP Mates volunteers and the hospital staff collaborate?
The two groups will work together regularly depending on the patients’ needs. While the hospital staff can address medical concerns, often the insurance or financial concerns of patients are just as worrisome. A readily accessible SHIP Mate can greatly relieve the anxiety associated with these issues for both the patient and hospital staff.
How is a SHIP Mate selected?
The OSHIIP staff and the hospital will jointly select SHIP Mates. The goal is to have five or more SHIP Mates per hospital, enough to have coverage for weekdays when most patients are discharged.
Is there a SHIP Mate team leader for each hospital?
A team of trained SHIP Mates will have a team leader called a First Mate who will act as a local technical expert to the other SHIP Mates and act as a liaison to the OSHIIP home office in Columbus. The First Mate will also be the project’s local contact person for the hospital staff, assign SHIP Mates to a visiting schedule, monitor the team’s activities, and collect and mail all SHIP Mates documentation to the OSHIIP home office on a monthly basis.
How is the SHIP Mates program funded and what are its projected outlays?
In the first three pilot hospitals, Fremont Memorial, Barberton Citizens, and Metro Health Hospitals, SHIP Mates was funded by a grant awarded to the Health Assistance Partnership (HAP). Implementation for current and future hospital programs is funded by federal grants awarded annually to OSHIIP. The goal is to gradually extend the program statewide as funding permits. SHIP Mates is a national model that may be duplicated in other states.
How will the SHIP Mates program be evaluated to determine if it is successful?
The Medicare beneficiaries receiving services, SHIP Mates volunteers and the hospital staff will assess the program’s value. Modifications to the project will be made, in part, based upon the feedback from all involved parties.
Who created SHIP Mates?
Former OSHIIP Director Gretchen Lopez created SHIP Mates, the first outreach program of its kind for Medicare beneficiaries.
Who can I contact about becoming a SHIP Mates volunteer or if I am a hospital executive interested in implementing the program?
Contact OSHIIP Outreach Specialist Rebecca Hayward at 614-728-1043 or Rebecca.Hayward@insurance.ohio.gov.