Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida HELPLINE: 866-413-5337
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SHINE Medicare Counseling

Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders

If you’ve ever needed to choose a health insurance plan, you understand what a complicated process it can be.  SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) counselors help seniors navigate Medicare and make informed decisions about coverage.  SHINE offers free, personalized, unbiased, and confidential Medicare counseling for Florida’s Medicare beneficiaries, as well as their families and caregivers.

SHINE counselors are not affiliated with any insurance companies or agencies.  They neither sell nor recommend insurance of any type.

The Area Agency on Aging’s network of trained SHINE volunteers are available year-round. These counselors can:

  • Offer guidance on important Medicare decisions
  • Help evaluate Medicare coverage
  • Screen for cost savings programs
  • Problem-solve
  • Assist with claims and appeals

In Southwest Florida, nearly 9,500 seniors took advantage of SHINE assistance last year. SHINE counselors are also available to make educational presentations and participate in community events.  SHINE is part of the federal SHIP (State Health Insurance Program) network (PDF).

Senior Medicare Patrol

SHINE is also part of the national Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program. The SMP is another federal program devoted to assisting Medicare beneficiaries by helping them to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling, and education.

If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact a SHINE counselor through the Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 OR 866-41-ELDER.

As part of Medicare Fraud Prevention Week, regional SHINE & Senior Medicare Patrol team members held a collaborative online webinar about Medicare Fraud. In this webinar the team members discuss:

• Medicare Fraud & Actions Everyone Can Take
• Common Scams seen in our State
• What an SMP helps with & Why it is important to Report.

Joining us are SHINE & Senior Medicare Patrol team members: Camilita Aldridge, SHINE Liaison with Area Agency on Aging in Southwest Florida; Amy Hagel, SHINE Liaison & Volunteer Manager with the Senior Connection Center; Kathy Sarmiento, SHINE Liaison with Alliance for Aging; Kristina Young, SHINE Outreach & Education Specialist with Elder Options.

Remember the three steps: Prevent, Detect, Report! Call or email your local SHINE-SMP if you believe you or a loved one have experienced health care fraud, errors, or abuse.

Have questions or need to request SHINE-SMP assistance? Call the Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 or visit to submit a contact request.

Find a SHINE Event


Check our events calendar for a SHINE event near you, or visit the Florida SHINE website to find a SHINE counseling site. SHINE events are available both in-person and as online webinars.

SHINE is a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and administered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

Helpline Assistance

The AAASWFL Elder Helpline can provide you with more information about SHINE events in your area or assist you with counseling appointments.  You can reach the Helpline by calling 866-413-5337.

Thank you, Volunteers!

Our SHINE volunteers assisted nearly 9,500 Southwest Floridians in 2018.

“Every problem that the country faces is being solved in some community by some group or some individual. The question is how to get connected so that the whole nation can solve problems. A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens – citizens in the fullest sense; partners in civilization.”
-Former President George H.W. Bush

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida recognizes that some content on this page may not be accessible. 

SHIP Resource Center

Review this list to help you prepare for your SHINE counseling session.

Did you know that the Medicare and You handbook is now available in a paperless version?  Sign up today to get your digital version of Medicare and You.

Learn about:

You can make changes to your Medicare coverage each year during Fall Open Enrollment, which runs October 15 to December 7. Around September, you will start to receive notices with information about any changes to your coverage for the coming year. Read these notices so you can decide if your coverage will continue to meet your needs or if you should change it. Learn more about these notices (DOC).

When you compare Medicare health or drug plans, there are a few things to consider, including costs, drugs and pharmacies, plan type, and benefits (PDF).

Deciding if and when to enroll in the various parts of Medicare, when you are first eligible, is an important choice. Learn how to make informed Medicare enrollment decisions and avoid penalties or gaps in coverage (PDF).

Have you ever asked yourself, is this preventive service covered at 100% by Medicare? Learn more.

When unexpected challenges or mistakes occur with your Medicare, it is helpful to know where to voice your concerns and who can help (learn more). 


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