By Betty Berry, Tuesday April 5, 2011 Q: Recently I asked a friend some questions about my health care coverage and she suggested that I contact an organization named HICAP for assistance. I’ve never heard of HICAP, don’t know what the letters stand for or how to contact them. Do you know of this organization?
A: Your neighbor was very smart in suggesting that you contact HICAP. It is an organization that can provide you with excellent unbiased information about health care coverage for those who are covered or about to be covered by Medicare.
HICAP stands for Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program. HICAP’s counseling services are provided by fully trained volunteer counselors who are registered by the California Department of Aging and who act in good faith to provide information about health insurance policies and benefits to the senior population. The volunteers are very well trained and can provide a wealth of unbiased information.
They provide assistance to those with questions about Medicare, Medi-Cal, HMOs, PPOs, Medigap and Long Term Care Insurance in addition to assisting in resolving billing problems. They offer objective information to help seniors and others on Medicare make good decisions about their health care coverage.
They will give you both the pros and cons of each option available to you. They do not sell, nor are they affiliated with any health insurance provider.
These counselors not only undergo extensive initial training to become proficient but they are required by the state to take additional training annually to keep abreast of the many changes that occur in the senior health care program. They are truly beneficiary advocates.
They can help you because they understand the various options and how they fit or don’t fit together. They understand Medicare and employers’ health care plans. They are trained to be able to explain Medicare and compare Medigap (also known as supplemental) insurance plans. They can explain and compare the various Senior Advantage plans.
In addition they can help you organize doctor and hospital bills with insurance reports so you can determine what has been paid and by whom. They also know about and can explain government assistance programs for which you may be eligible.
All of these services are free of charge with absolutely no hidden fees.
HICAP services are available throughout Ventura County. To locate the closest service to you call the HICAP office at 477-7310 or inquire at your local senior center. Counseling is provided by appointment.
The HICAP program falls under the responsibility of Ventura County’s Area Agency on Aging. With the changes that will be taking place in the health care field over the next several years I would suggest that you make yourself familiar with these services in your community.
April 12: Seminar 7-8:30 p.m. “This Is Where You Go For Information,” Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road, Thousand Oaks. Facilitated by Lori Bliss and Betty Berry. For reservations call 497-0189.
April 13: Seminar 1:30-3 p.m. “Understanding Long Term Care and Insurance,” Westlake Village. Facilitated by Betty Berry. No reservations required. For information call 495-6250.