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SHIBA volunteers available to assist with Medicare, insurance questions

Two financial counselors at Syringa Hospital to help

Idaho’s SHIBA provide free, unbiased and confidential help with Medicare and health care choices to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Idaho’s SHIBA provide free, unbiased and confidential help with Medicare and health care choices to people of all ages and backgrounds.



— Have you been struggling to figure out what Medicare supplement to add or what insurance benefits are available?

Syringa Hospital has two ladies ready and willing to help locals. Financial counselors Sue Little and Alissa Bunch are SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) trained volunteers who offer a variety of information and advisement.

Idaho’s SHIBA provide free, unbiased and confidential help with Medicare and health care choices to people of all ages and backgrounds. In Idaho County, three volunteer advisors are available (another is located at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood).

Little and Bunch are able to assess health care coverage needs, determine general eligibility for health care coverage programs, evaluate and compare health insurance plans and programs, provide enrollment help with Medicare, speak with 1-800 Medicare on a client’s behalf, make referrals to other agencies and programs and collect and report possible fraud complaints.

“I think sometimes when someone signs up for Medicare, they think that’s all there is to it,” Little said.

“But there are actually important choices with Part A and Part B and what is covered under each,” added Bunch.

The two understand the process can be confusing and are available to help people understand the differences, what is covered under each plan and how a specific supplement plan could benefit each specific person.

“We are also able to help with prescription drug plans,” Little said.

Yvonne Robinett-Hoiland, Director Revenue Cycle, HIPAA Security and Privacy Officer for Syringa Hospital and Clinics, explained SHIBA is a federally funded program that contacted her seeking volunteer counselors.

“These two deal with clients’ financial issues and billing all the time, so they seemed the most logical fit,” Hoiland explained. “They are trying to collect the fees for the services Syringa provides, but they also want to do that in a way that best helps the patients, too.”

Hoiland said the two went through a training process to be SHIBA volunteers. This included on-line work, a conference, shadowing other volunteers and then hands-on training in which they began helping people with their issues.

Little and Bunch said they are also available to discuss any payment issue a Syringa patron may have.

“We cannot help if we don’t know what’s going on,” Little emphasized. “If there is a problem of any kind, please let us know.”

Little and Bunch not only help with Medicare questions, but are also able to network with other state and county resources and see if a person may qualify for another program.

“There are some other options, and they may be very helpful,” Bunch added.

General questions can be answered via the phone (call the hospital and 983-1700 to be transferred); however, for more extensive conversations about plans specific to Idaho County and to view plans side-by-side, an appointment can be made.



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