November 29, 2011

State insurance department: One week left for Medicare open enrollment

Consumers urged to take advantage of free counseling program

Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance is reminding Missourians with questions about Medicare prescription drug plans that they have one week to enroll or make changes to their coverage. The 2011 open enrollment period ends on Dec. 7, which is earlier than in previous years.

To help consumers answer those questions, the department offers a free counseling program, which can be accessed by phone or in person. The program, Community Leaders Assisting the Insured of Missouri (CLAIM), has already helped more than 6,500 Missourians since open enrollment began on Oct. 15. The CLAIM program, funded by Medicare and the Department of Insurance, offers free, expert assistance to Missourians on Medicare or their loved ones.

CLAIM has also hosted more than 100 open enrollment events across Missouri this year. Among the consumers helped at these events:

  • A Kansas City woman, after talking with a CLAIM counselor, discovered she was paying for two separate Medicare policies, and one of them was unnecessary. In addition, she determined she was eligible for the Extra Help program and the Medicare Savings Program. By canceling the unnecessary policy and qualifying for the assistance programs, the woman will save $441 per month.
  • A St. Louis woman came in with four insurance plans. A counselor pointed out that she was significantly over-insured. The woman ended up canceling all four policies and switching to more suitable plans. She will save $211 per month.
  • A St. Louis retiree was paying $1,200 per month for health coverage through his former employer. Consulting with a CLAIM counselor showed that he and his wife would be better off buying a combination of Medicare plans, which they decided to do, saving $600 per month.

"With just one week left, consumers should be aware of last-minute ruses by scam artists trying to steal personal information or sell them worthless coverage," said John M. Huff, director of the Department of Insurance. "That's why we strongly encourage using the expert counselors at the CLAIM program, who can help consumers review their options and make an informed decision."

Consumers can call CLAIM at 800-390-3330 with questions or to set up an appointment. They can also visit