May 27, 2010

Missouri Department of Insurance reminds seniors of Medigap insurance changes June 1

Free Missouri shopping guide now available

Jefferson City, Mo. - Missouri Insurance Director John M. Huff says Missourians who have Medigap insurance, also known as Medicare Supplement, will soon see the biggest changes to the program since the mid-1990s. Medigap covers deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare.

Medigap is sold by private insurance companies regulated by the Missouri Department of Insurance. Currently, each insurer sells up to 14 different plans, labeled Plan A through L. Benefits for each plan are standardized - for example, Plan A offers the same benefits regardless of which company offers it. Effective June 1, five Medigap plans will no longer be sold, and two new plans will be available.

The 2010 changes remove some outdated and unnecessary benefits, improve hospice coverage and give consumers an option for lower monthly premiums in exchange for higher deductibles and copayments.

"Shopping for a Medigap plan this year may be even more challenging than usual because of these changes," said Huff. "That's why it's even more important for consumers to consult many of the free expert resources available in Missouri."

The Department of Insurance offers a free booklet, the Missouri Medigap Shopping Guide, which explains the basics of Medigap and other parts of Medicare, and offers price comparisons for each plan offered by each insurance company selling Medigap coverage in Missouri.

To order a free copy of the Missouri Medigap Shopping Guide, contact the Department of Insurance at insurance.mo.gov or call the department's Insurance Consumer Hotline, 800-726-7390.

Consumers with questions about Medigap or other types of Medicare can call the CLAIM program, a free counseling service funded by the Department of Insurance and Medicare. Based in Columbia, the CLAIM program offers free, unbiased one-on-one counseling, either by phone or in person. Medicare recipients and their advocates can visit missouriclaim.org or call 800-390-3330.

CLAIM staff and volunteers are holding two free "Welcome to Medicare" events for Missourians turning 65 in St. Charles County:

  • June 9, St. Peters Senior Center, 108 McMenamy Road, 1-4 p.m.
  • June 10, St. Charles County Library, 2323 Elm St., 6-8:30 p.m.

Consumers interested in attending should preregister by calling the CLAIM program at 800-390-3330.

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

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