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Nov 26, 2014 - 03:31 AM  
Providing Information To Help Seniors & Their Caregivers Help Themselves
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Health Insurance Is Confusing and SHINE is here to Help.

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SHINE Newsletter

A picture of a caregiver helping an elderly couple with insurance forms.

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for the Upcoming Chat Session on SHINE Serving The Health Information Needs of Elders
SHINE Topic List
Click on a link below, to jump directly to the corresponding topic.

What is the SHINE Program?

The SHINE program provides free, unbiased and up-to-date health insurance information, counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries of all ages and their caregivers. The SHINE counselors help older persons (and younger disabled Medicare beneficiaries) understand their Medicare benefits and other health insurance options.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs administers the SHINE Program throughout the state. CEMACA (Central Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging) hosts the program here in Central Massachusetts. The Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging is a SHINE Member Site.

What is a SHINE Counselor?

Community volunteers who are trained and certified by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in many areas of health benefits. SHINE Counselors provide information on Medicare (Part A & Part B), Medigap insurance, Medicare HMOs, retiree insurance plans, Medicaid and free or reduced cost health care programs.

How May a SHINE Counselor Help Me?

SHINE Counselors help Medicare beneficiaries understand their rights and benefits under Medicare and other health insurance coverage. Counselors may review present coverage, provide written comparisons of plans, protect Medicare beneficiaries from paying for bills they should not pay, and prevent paying for unnecessary duplicate coverage. Counselors also help with claim forms and applications. They will make referrals when appropriate.

Typical Questions for SHINE Counselors.

  • What does Medicare Pay for?
  • What is "Medigap" insurance?
  • Which Medigap policy is best for me? When can I buy a Medigap policy?
  • Where can I get help paying for my prescription drugs?
  • What is "Medicare + Choice" or a "Medicare Health Plan"?
  • How do I appeal a denial of service under Medicare or a Medicare HMO?
  • What do "balance billing" and "accepting assignment" mean?
  • Is an HMO better for me?
  • If I join a Medicare HMO, will I have to change physicians?
  • Does Medicare or Medigap insurance pay for nursing home or home health care?
  • Where do I go to apply for Medicaid?
  • Do I qualify for Supplemental Security Income ( SSI)
  • When can I sign up for Medicare Part B? Can I get help paying for the monthly premium?

Where Can I Find a SHINE Counselor?

The SHINE Program in Central Massachusetts provides services to 63 cities and towns. SHINE Counselors are available at Area Agencies on Aging, Councils on Aging, Senior Centers and Aging Service Access Points (ASAP). Counselors work in many local hospitals, housing centers and libraries. SHINE Counselors are also available for homebound individuals.

Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging is proud to be a SHINE Member Site. Several days a week SHINE Counselors come into our office and provide counseling. Our Counselors address the needs of our consumers by counseling them over the phone as well as during schedule appointments. Consumers are dealt with on a first come first serve basis. The vast majority of cases can be dealt with over the telephone. It is not unusual for materials to be mailed to the consumer. Appointments at our West Boylston office can be scheduled by contacting CMAA Monday through Friday at 508-852-5539 V/TDD or 1-800-244-3032 V/TDD.

To locate a SHINE Counselor in your community, please contact the Central Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging at the Milford Senior Center 1-800-AGE-INFO / 1-800-243-4636. For a list of SHINE Member Sites in your area, please click here.

How Can I Become a SHINE Counselor?

Volunteer SHINE Counselors are the heart of this program. By becoming a state certified counselor, you will be an important member of the growing efforts to help Medicare beneficiaries understand their healthcare options. We invite you to find out more about SHINE and what you can do to help. If you would like to receive more information about becoming a SHINE volunteer, please contact :

Ed Roth
Regional SHINE Program Director
Central Regional SHINE Consortium
Central Massachusetts Area Council on Aging
Address: 60 North Bow Street
Milford, MA 01757
Phone (Voice): 1-800-AGE-INFO
Phone (TTY): 508-422-9931

Helpful Links

Note: The links below will lead you to websites outside of this site. These websites may not be handicap accessible.


For more information please click on the following link to email us

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A Service of the Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging   
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Support for this site is provided in part or whole by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs