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Volunteer Recognition

The Importance of SHIIP/ SMP Volunteers and Sites

SHIIP/ SMP services are provided through a network of amazing volunteers and sites throughout the State of Iowa. SHIIP/ SMP volunteers and services give peace of mind by providing Medicare beneficiaries with the information they need to make educated selections for the health insurance products that meet their needs.  SHIIP/ SMP Volunteers provide education to help people avoid, identify and resolve cases of Medicare fraud, errors and abuse. SHIIP/ SMP volunteers also assist Medicare beneficiaries save money on prescriptions, and offer a lifeline to those needing extra help to cover their bills. 

Meet a SHIIP/ SMP Volunteer- David Kline: “There Is Help at Hand”

David KlineDavid Kline’s sense of humor is only dwarfed by his dedication to his family and passion for supporting individuals and families in his community. As a new volunteer in 2018, David was placed as a SHIIP/SMP Counselor with UnityPoint Health - Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. Since then he has put more than 250 hours of service towards more than 550 client meetings that have resulted in clients saving over $324,550 in Medicare and health related expenses.

After starting as a SHIIP/SMP Counselor, David quickly showed willingness and interest in helping out wherever assistance was needed. He also volunteers as a back-up for the consumer help line, has taken on the Extra Help Specialist role to assist clients around the state in applying for financial assistance, and leads Welcome to Medicare presentations for persons who are new to Medicare.

Working as a SHIIP/SMP Counselor was a natural fit with David’s professional skills. “I’ve been in the health industry since I first started working professionally.  Twenty years at Wellmark, five years as CMO at an Insurance Agency, 5 + years in software sales for agents.”

Retirement didn’t hold David’s attention for long. “After being retired for 6 months, and digitally scanning some 10,000 family photos, I decided to volunteer.  I volunteered for Food Bank of Iowa and Restore for something physical and SHIIP/SMP for something mental.” Since then, volunteering with SHIIP/SMP has been the role that stuck – and we are so glad it did!

Natalie Burnham, a SHIIP/SMP Caseworker shares: "Our clients are so appreciative of David's Medicare expertise! I often refer clients to David for last minute emergency counseling and always receive feedback on how David's calm demeanor puts them at ease.  David's great counseling has enabled his clients to make informed decisions about their Medicare that they feel good about."

The thing that kept David’s attention was the clear and immediate positive impact his time had on the individuals and families he was helping. “I’ve worked with people who are confused, frustrated, and sometimes scared.  Untangling all of it in their mind, helping with the steps needed to be taken, what they need to personally do and how we can help them to the endgame is fulfilling.”

The biggest challenge David faces as a SHIIP/SMP volunteer is combating all the misinformation and notions people have about Medicare. “Most clients come with preconceptions; some correct, some not.  ‘I heard that…’, ‘I was told that…’, ‘I know that…’ etc.” It is important to David that he provide correct and unbiased information with authority. “When I do not know an answer, I say so, but also that I will find out and I will get back to them.”

Even after volunteering for five years, David admits that navigating and understanding Medicare is a constant learning process. He encourages anyone with questions to reach out to their local SHIIP/SMP and set up an appointment. “It doesn’t matter your IQ, it can be confusing but there is help at hand.”