The numbers are impressive. More than 700 Harvey County residents will receive more than $500,000 in combined savings for the upcoming year thanks to the  Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) program.

“When the number of clients came across, I was really impressed,” said Anne Pitts, an extension agent for Harvey County Kansas State Research and Extension. “I just wanted to reach as many people as possible.”

Her office is one of two at the county courthouse to have a trained SHICK representative — the other is the Department on Aging. 

SHICK representatives visited with 742 people in the 2017 enrollment period, finding $514,155 in savings. Both figures were jumps forward from the previous year, when 644 people reviewed their plan for a cumulative savings of $201,506.

The dollars saved is formulated on the website by comparing annual estimated costs of a person’s current prescription plan to the savings found by switching to a more cost-effective plan.

SHICK representatives help seniors identify potential savings in their Medicare Part D options through a free counseling session. The program is run by Harvey County Kansas State Research and Extension with the support of the Harvey County Department on Aging.

Robert Carlton, Harvey County Department on Aging director, expressed appreciation for the pivotal roles volunteers and senior center representatives played in the uptick of residents utilizing the SHICK program.

The cities of Newton and Hesston are home to the majority of seniors reviewing their plans, however he said increased volunteer counseling in Halstead and Sedgwick helped discover new enrollees this year.

Looking ahead to 2018, both Carlton and Pitts were eager to continue to grow the project throughout the county.

“We need more volunteers. They’re vital,” Pitts said.

SHICK counseling runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.