South Sound Outreach to sponsor SHIBA

SHIBA trainer Che Lee and SHIBA volunteer Nelda Kron. Photo by Joan Cronk

The State Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) has found a new home and sponsor at South Sound Outreach in Tacoma.

SHIBA operates under the Consumer Protection arm of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner and provides free, unbiased health coverage counseling about Medicare, Medicaid, basic health, children’s health insurance programs and Washington State Health Insurance Pool.

Volunteers are trained and supervised by advisors and provide information to help clients make their own decisions regarding insurance coverage.

Volunteer Kitty Custer said all the volunteers work hard and are a great group of people to be associated with. “I like to help people with questions and help them make those connections so they can make the right decision for themselves,” she said.

Che Lee is a SHIBA trainer.  He covers four counties in Washington state.  Volunteers attend a three day training session to learn about public and private options.  “We do our best to help them find the area that they are comfortable in,” he said.  Mentors are available and volunteers are given technical information to get them up to speed and confident in providing counseling. “You don’t need to know every single thing, but here are people they can ask,” he said, adding that SHIBA does not sell or solicit insurance. “We just give facts and options.”
Lee said there are 1.1 million people in Washington without insurance and he is grateful for the wonderful volunteers.  “Last year alone we helped 45,000 people around the state with our 400 plus volunteers.”

Eight year volunteer Nelda Kron said she wanted to get involved with SHIBA because her mother had to rely on some assisted care before her death and she wanted to pay back the state for how that service helped her mother.  “Everyone associated with the SHIBA program, volunteers and directors, are giving people and willing to help,” she said.

SHIBA is always recruiting for new volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering for SHIBA can contact Heather Little, Volunteer Coordinator for SHIBA at 253-593-3499.  Roberta Marsh, Executive Director of South Sound Outreach said, “For people who like working with people and educating them, it is wonderful and unique opportunity.”

Folks of any age needing SHIBA assistance in Pierce County are encouraged to call  the SHIBA hotline at 1-800-562-6900.