SHIP to help elderly with prescriptions

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Prescription assistance is available for people who are disabled, laid off or in low-income households, but not enough people know they are eligible.

The Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging is offering the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). People can apply for the program from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday at the Walker Johnson branch of the YMCA. The service is free of charge.

Unlike the Senior Rx program, SHIP provides prescription drug assistance for people who have Medicare. SHIP helps tailor a plan to each individual based on their medicines and their level of income.

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Attorney Clayton Davis, a partner at Davis & Neal, said several people don’t check to see if they qualify, or information doesn’t spread to them quickly enough.

Organizers chose the YMCA as the venue, instead of a senior citizens center, to encourage people of all ages to apply.

“A lot of people think of Medicare, and all they think about is seniors,” Davis said. “There are also a lot of people of all ages who are disabled, and they are often in greater need than the seniors who may be healthy. Every day I’ll see a couple, and they’ll say, ‘Well, we’re OK, but our daughter is disabled, and she has a little girl she’s trying to raise.’”

Davis & Neal, with law offices in Montgomery, Dothan, Mobile and Opelika, contracts with the ATRC to provide legal assistance for people older than 60 as well as for those enrolled in SHIP.

Anyone who cannot come to the YMCA on Monday can get assistance over the phone by calling 1-888-671-5246.

People applying should have their prescription containers, Social Security card, Medicare and any other health or prescription cards, date of birth and income information.

Although prescription drug companies have their own programs to make medications more affordable to customers, the requirements for each can vary greatly.

Davis said the SHIP program is a valuable service for people to get help figuring out an effective drug plan at reasonable price.

The service goes a step beyond medical care to ensure seniors are taken care of more thoroughly.

“If they wander in over there and have us check out their medical plan situation, I’m going to also ask them if they’ve checked out their will. Have you got consumer problems maybe you could get legal help with?” Davis said. “We try to let them know about everything that the Area Agency on Aging has.”