October 15, 2012

Missouri Department of Insurance offers assistance to consumers during Medicare open enrollment

Free, expert advice available from CLAIM program

Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance is encouraging consumers with Medicare to review their coverage options during this year's open enrollment period. The department offers a free service to help Medicare recipients choose the plan that best meets their needs.

The CLAIM program, funded by the department and Medicare, offers free, expert advice to Missourians on Medicare and their loved ones. The annual open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. During open enrollment, consumers can make changes to their Part D drug coverage or Medicare Advantage plans.

"I encourage all Missourians with Medicare to review their plan options every year, even if they're happy with their current coverage," said John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. "Prices and plans can change, so spending 30 minutes with a CLAIM counselor could result in better coverage, big savings or both."

Missouri consumers can ask questions by phone or arrange one-on-one counseling by calling 800-390-3330 or visiting missouriclaim.org. The website also offers a list of free open enrollment events being hosted by CLAIM throughout Missouri during the open enrollment period.

CLAIM can also help consumers determine whether they qualify for federal or state help in paying for prescription drugs on a limited income. Medicare offers the Extra Help program, and the state offers the MoRx program.

Huff also wants to remind seniors, health care providers and others that Medicare has strict rules on forbidden sales practices. He advises consumers to be cautious of unscrupulous salespeople during the open enrollment period.

Consumers with complaints or general questions about insurance can call the Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.

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.