Senior Benefits Counseling Program: Government benefit programs can have an enormous impact on the quality of life for seniors as they age, but many seniors are overwhelmed by the complexity of the programs and fail to fully understand and access their benefits. The Senior Benefits Counseling Program is a critical, local resource for unbiased information about complex government benefits. Through educational seminars and individual counseling, seniors are empowered with the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions about their benefit options. Through the Senior Benefits Counselor Program, seniors receive unbiased, one-on-one counseling to help with; • Transitioning from current insurance into Medicare • Understanding the basics of Medicare, including benefits, costs, enrollment time frames and coordination of benefits with other insurance. • Reviewing Medicare Part D and Advantage plan coverage annually • Resolving Medicare billing issues • Finding and applying for financial assistance programs to lower healthcare costs • Applying for property tax relief through Homestead Exemption
Volunteers Assisting Seniors (VAS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that began in 1977 as a result of a nationwide effort by the Junior League to provide assistance to older adults and to demonstrate that retired seniors can be a valuable resource for solving problems. Our mission is to help older adults in eastern Nebraska understand their benefit options, thereby empowering them to make informed decisions. VAS provides unbiased information and advocacy through one-on-one counseling and workshops to older adults living in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, Washington and Cass counties (metro Omaha) in Nebraska. The services we offer are provided by retired professionals who use their knowledge, life experiences and specialized training to help their peers better understand their benefits. Assistance is available through the following VAS programs:
Senior Benefits Counselor Program: Health insurance in general is one of the most complex products an individual will ever purchase. Insurance options available through Medicare are even more confusing. Through our network of trained and certified volunteers, VAS provides unbiased information and advocacy to help seniors and disabled individuals better understand their health insurance options. Education and assistance is provided through workshops and in-depth counseling on Medicare. This program provides an essential local resource, not only for seniors and their caregivers, but also for health care providers, community agencies who work with older adults and people with disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic created the need to change our service delivery model from in person to virtual counseling and education to ensure the health and safety of the senior population we serve. Even with the challenges of the pandemic, in 2020, VAS had 5,208 contacts with seniors and disabled who received help understanding their health insurance benefits for an estimated savings of $1.5 million in health care costs.
Homestead Exemption Assistance Program: Many seniors do not feel comfortable completing the application form to apply for property tax relief through homestead exemption and as a result, forego the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars in property taxes. Due to the pandemic, our assistance events were canceled. We were able to assist 436 low-income senior homeowners over the phone for an estimated $1 million in property tax savings.
"Thank you so much for your time today to work with my mom and I through her prescription Medicare plan. You were wonderful to work with and I appreciate the assistance so much. I don't know how I would have done this myself."
"Through the mail, I was inundated with insurance companies wanting to provide my Medicare supplement insurance, but I did NOT want to be contacted by all the agents! These mailings were not helpful in explaining coverage options, so I did my own researching of plan and options, and then I contacted VAS-SHIP! They were very informed and affirming of the info I'd gleaned, and then sent me pricing on the 2 options I'd narrowed my search to, and, also helped me with prescription drug plans. I felt confident in my choice of plans largely due to the help my counselor offered."
"I was approaching retirement and was very confused about additional insurance. I was so glad I talked with my VAS counselor about the plans available, Because of her, I was able to make an informed decision without being pressured by a salesman. Same goes for the prescription plan. She was very patient and explained the whole thing very well and answered all my questions."
"I just want to say that VAS is AN OUTSTANDING PROGRAM. The counselors do a wonderful job. They make it very easy to understand and are very patient and hands on. I HIGHLY recommend this program. I feel very well informed by all their help."
"I was a clean slate. Knew nothing of the intricacies of the choices. My wife had gone through an experience on behalf of a disabled sister with another counselor within the last month. With my wife by my side and the VAS counselor right in front of me we plodded through multiple scenarios which made me aware and confident that I knew enough to navigate through the various roads of supplemental and drug coverages. Thank you, VAS counselor, for your time and talent!"
"I want to update you on my Medicare journey. My Medicare card arrived on Saturday, which was my birthday. It was the best card I received! I contacted the supplement company and they signed me up for the Medicare Supplement Plan G and a Prescription Drug Plan. WHAT A RELIEF! I am grateful to you for your patience, kindness, understanding and knowledge. You helped make my journey much simpler."
"Helpful. Informative. Clear. COMFORTING."
Our mission is to simplify the lives of seniors by enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their benefits