Many of us have that burning desire to somehow make a difference in the world and positively impact the lives of other people, but are unsure of how to make it happen. The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) provides the perfect opportunity to put that passion into action.

OSHIIP, a division of the Ohio Department of Insurance, needs individuals who are ready to join our team, and get involved in their communities.

OSHIIP's dedicated staff and tireless volunteers offer free, unbiased information and counseling about health insurance to people covered by Medicare, their families and caregivers. For example, during the recent Medicare coordinated election period, they assisted more than 27,000 Ohioans through outreach and personalized assistance via OSHIIP's toll-free hotline, 1-800-686-1578. People confused and searching for options were grateful to find knowledgeable and caring people eager to provide support while trying to decide on the best coverage for their healthcare needs at the most reasonable price.

Many of the folks helped saved significant dollars on their prescription drug costs and their out-of-pocket insurance costs. One case in particular saved a Medicare beneficiary $15,000 in drug costs when an OSHIIP representative provided an individualized plan comparison report.

Also, by volunteering for OSHIIP, you might learn something new or develop a skill that could even boost your career options. Those who decide to volunteer for the program receive free, comprehensive training courses and informational materials. In addition, volunteers have the option of selecting from several opportunities, which include:

* Volunteer Counselor: Provide personal contact and assistance to clients.

* Volunteer Administrator: Schedule and staff local sites; assist counselors.

* Volunteer Recruiter: Recruit potential OSHIIP volunteers.

* Volunteer Educator: Educate community and volunteers about OSHIIP's purpose.

* Volunteer Marketer: Promote awareness through local media resources.

* Volunteer County Coordinator: Assists with volunteer management and local promotional efforts.

We need people like you to help in your area and become part of our team of more than 700 OSHIIP volunteers statewide.

For more information on how to become a volunteer, please visit the Medicare Services section on our Web site at You can also call the OSHIIP volunteer hotline at 1-888-686-8657 to speak with Becky. Volunteer applications can be submitted through the Web site or they can be faxed to (614) 752-0740.

(Mary Jo Hudson is the Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance.)