For Consumers

Become a Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisor (SHIBA) volunteer

Who we are

  • SHIBA is part of the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner's consumer protection services. We provide free, unbiased and confidential help with Medicare and health care choices.
  • One of 54 state health insurance programs (SHIP) in the US, SHIBA was the very first program in the nation. We've been in operation since 1979.
  • Our 250 volunteers are located across the state. We contract/partner statewide with local non-profits to provide outreach and counseling services to serve all 39 Washington state counties.
  • We do not sell or endorse insurance products or conduct market research, and we're not affiliated with any insurance companies.

Why volunteer for SHIBA?

You can make a difference in the life of a senior citizen or someone with a disability. Not only does volunteering offer vital help to people in need and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for the volunteer as it:

  • 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 prolongs your life.
  • Helps get you out of the house and involved in your community.
  • Brings fun and fulfillment to your life.
  • Meet new friends.

Who can volunteer

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you! Or if you’re in between jobs, looking to start a new career or are already employed and looking to gain valuable knowledge or to enhance your resume and show potential existing employers you’re proactive, come volunteer with SHIBA! And if you speak another language in addition to English - that’s a bonus!

Note: We can’t take anyone who has any interest in an insurance company, other than as a policyholder.

How SHIBA volunteers help others

  • Assess Medicare coverage needs
  • Determine general eligibility for health care coverage programs.
  • Evaluate and compare health plans and programs.
  • Provide Medicare enrollment help. 
  • Speak with 1-800-MEDICARE on clients’ behalf.
  • Make referrals to other agencies/programs.
  • Collect and report possible fraud complaints.
  • Make public presentations to local groups.
  • Provide clerical support.
  • Participate in outreach activities.

We offer volunteer positions for all interests

As a SHIBA volunteer, you have have the option to perform a role that you feel fits your goals, aptitudes and interests. SHIBA volunteer roles include:

  • Counsel others
  • Provide clerical support
  • Participate in outreach activities
  • Give presentations to the public
  • Work on special projects

What's required?

You don’t have to know Medicare - we’ll teach you by providing you with training. You just need to have a passion for helping others and want to learn!

Talk to someone to learn more about volunteering for SHIBA in your local community.

Request a volunteer application.

Hear other volunteer testimonials

State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) volunteers (known as SHIBA here in Washington state) share their rewarding volunteer experiences with you:

Video one (2:57 minutes):  SHIP interview Charles Reese Medicare Counselor

Video two (2 minutes):  SHIP interview Gary Schwartz

Video three (3:19 minutes):  SHIP interview William Chao