Q&A with SHIBA: Valuable Information, Resources & Books to Help You Navigate Medicare

Posted on May 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

Woman showing another woman something on a computer, and two men looking at another computer screen.

By Crystal Miller

Spokane County Library District has been partnering with the Statewide Health Insurance Benefit Advisor (SHIBA) program to offer free, unbiased Medicare programs. SHIBA advisors provide our customers with valuable information related to healthcare, more specifically Medicare, on a regular basis.

I interviewed Monica Kudrna, the SHIBA Coordinator, to learn more about the programs they offer as well as information on how to become involved in volunteering with this great program and the benefits that volunteering provides.

Q&A with Monica Kudrna of SHIBA

Crystal: Would you share a bit about what areas of Washington state you serve, what SHIBA is, and who SHIBA serves?

Monica: I’m the SHIBA Coordinator for Spokane, Whitman, Asotin, and Garfield Counties. The SHIBA program is part of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s consumer protection services. We are sponsored locally by Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW).

The SHIBA program provides free, unbiased, and confidential help with Medicare and the healthcare choices available within the Medicare program.

Our advisors are volunteers who have been through extensive training about Medicare. They provide one-on-one counseling for quite a few things. Some of the services that advisors provide include:

  • Assessing healthcare coverage needs
  • Determining general eligibility for healthcare coverage programs
  • Evaluating and comparing health plans and programs
  • Providing enrollment with Medicare
  • Speaking with 1-800-Medicare on a client’s behalf
  • Collecting and reporting possible fraud complaints

SHIBA advisors also provide public educational presentations on Medicare, Medicare preventive services, Medicare fraud, and programs that help pay for the cost of Medicare. They participate in health fairs and special events as well.

Crystal: How long has SHIBA been around?

Monica: The SHIBA program has been in operation since 1979. Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington has been the sponsor in Spokane County for over 10 years.

Crystal: What is involved in becoming a SHIBA volunteer?

Monica: SHIBA staff train and mentor volunteers to educate others about Medicare options so they can make informed decisions. Volunteers answer questions, make referrals, help evaluate and compare options, facilitate meetings, provide office support, give presentations, provide translation assistance, perform research, and much more.

A volunteer application and a background check are required to become a SHIBA volunteer. You also must be able to ensure client confidentiality and be willing to provide unbiased information. You cannot be affiliated with any insurance company, agency, product, or service to volunteer for SHIBA. You must also be willing to have fun! And it is important to note that you do not need to know about Medicare to get started—we will teach you!

When you are a SHIBA volunteer, you can make a difference in the lives of senior citizens and people with or experiencing disabilities. Not only does volunteering offer vital help to people in need and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for the volunteer. Volunteering:

  • Connects you to others
  • Helps reduce stress and combats depression
  • Keeps you mentally stimulated and provides a sense of purpose
  • Is good for your overall physical health, which can prolong your life
  • Helps get you out of the house and involved in your community
  • Brings fun and fulfillment to your life

Crystal: Who does SHIBA help?

Monica: We help all ages and backgrounds—people with disabilities and specific diseases, seniors and pre-retirees, ethnic and multilingual populations, uninsured people, rural populations, and people with low income.

Crystal: What’s the best way to contact the SHIBA office?

Monica: You can contact SHIBA by phone at 1-800-562-6900.

Upcoming Medicare Programs

Medicare: Getting Started

Learn the ABCDs of Medicare. A trained SHIBA volunteer presents the following Medicare topics: Medicare Parts A, B, C; how and when to enroll; prescription drug coverage (Part D); Medigaps; Advantage plans; financial assistance; and Medicare fraud. You will be able to ask questions and get answers during the presentation. Adults

This free, unbiased presentation is presented by ALTCEW and SHIBA.

Registration is required.

Saturday, June 11, 11am–12:30pm | REGISTER

Wednesday, June 22, 6–7:30pm | REGISTER
Wednesday, August 24, 1–2pm | REGISTER

Thursday, August 4, 1–2pm | REGISTER

Medicare Related Cost Savings

If you’re getting ready to enroll in Medicare or you’re already a Medicare beneficiary, you’re invited to this free, unbiased presentation to see if you qualify for programs that could save you over $170 per month of Medicare costs. We also discuss wellness and preventive benefits and durable medical equipment (DME). Adults

This free, unbiased presentation is presented by ALTCEW and SHIBA.

Registration is required.

Wednesday, July 13, 1–2pm | REGISTER

Wednesday, July 20, 1–2pm | REGISTER

Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare open enrollment for 2023 is just around the corner (October 15–December 7, 2022). In this free, unbiased presentation, a SHIBA volunteer shares information about Medicare Part D and Advantage plans, who is eligible, and what options available to you. We also cover what you can do during open enrollment; how to choose and change plans; what Medigaps are and how they work; what programs you qualify for to help pay for Medicare; and what Medicare fraud looks like so you can prevent it. Adults

This free, unbiased presentation is presented by ALTCEW and SHIBA.

Registration is required.

Thursday, September 22, 1–2pm | REGISTER

Monday, September 26, 1–2pm | REGISTER

Medicare Resources & Books

You can find your local SHIBA office within the State of Washington by checking the list on the SHIBA web page: Find a local SHIBA office.

If you’re interested in reading up on Medicare, Social Security, and/or retirement planning, the library has books that may be of interest in our catalog. Here are some books on our shelves that you may find helpful:

We also have eBooks and digital audiobooks on OverDrive on the topic of Medicare that you can borrow and read on your computer and mobile devices.

Whether you’re new to Medicare or looking to learn more about the benefits available to you, the library has classes and resources to get you started.

Librarian Crystal Miller

Crystal Miller is a Business and Career Development Librarian and has been working in libraries for 15 years. She has a master’s degree in library science from Simmons College and has worked at the Harvard Development Office Library, MIT Libraries, and the Coeur d’Alene Public Library. When she’s not at the library, she can be found at the dog park with her three fur babies or with a cookbook in hand, flipping through the pages, looking for the next recipe to try out.

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