Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP)
Section 4360 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (OBRA) (Public Law 101-508, codified at 42 USC 1395 b-4) authorizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to make grants to States to fund State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs). In FY 2012-13, New York State received $2.6 million in Federal funding for the Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP). This program - which also received $921,000 in State funds - is administered locally by the 59 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), which provide extensive health insurance counseling to Medicare beneficiaries, their caregivers and families.
The HIICAP program seeks to strengthen the abilities of the AAAs to provide health insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. HIICAP staff and volunteers provide unbiased information that helps Medicare beneficiaries to be confident, informed consumers who are able to make the most of their Medicare benefits and make educated choices from the myriad of complex plans. Program goals include assisting beneficiaries with information on Part D prescription benefits, information about Advantage Plans, Medicare supplemental insurance, Medicare Savings Programs; long-term care insurance options and other public and private insurance programs. Taken together, HIICAP is a comprehensive, one-source avenue for accurate and objective information about the Medicare program. In program year 2011-2012, HIICAP assisted over 142,000 Medicare beneficiaries with questions about their insurance. This is an increase of over 100,000 contacts since 2006.
In addition, recent priorities established by CMS and New York State have included an emphasis on utilizing Medicare preventive services through an initiative called Senior Health Check-Up. This program provides check lists of Medicare preventive services that are available for little or no charge to Medicare beneficiaries. Together with CMS, New York is producing materials and tool kits for local programs to promote this effort. For counseling or Medicare assistance, please call HIICAP at 1-800-701-0501. Callers will be prompted to enter their ZIP Code to be connected to a local Office for the Aging for Medicare counseling assistance.