JEFFERSON CITY –– The Missouri Department of Insurance is encouraging consumers who are eligible for Medicare to review their plan options and costs during this year’s open enrollment. The open enrollment period, which runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, presents Missourians with the opportunity to change their Part D drug coverage or Medicare Advantage plans. To help consumers choose a plan that best meets their needs, the department offers free assistance to Missourians who are eligible for Medicare and their caregivers through the department’s CLAIM program. CLAIM can also help Missourians on a limited income determine whether they qualify for a Low-Income Subsidy and/or Medicare Savings Programs to offset the cost of their prescription drugs.
Missourians can ask questions by phone or arrange one-on-one counseling by calling 1-800-390-3330 or visiting missouriclaim.org. The website also offers a list of free open enrollment events that CLAIM is hosting throughout Missouri.
“I encourage all Missouri seniors who have Medicare to take time during open enrollment to review their plans,” said Chlora Lindley-Myers, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. “Plans can change from year to year, and what you had last year may not be what best suits your needs this year.”
Director Lindley-Myers warns Missouri seniors, health care providers and others to be wary of unscrupulous sales tactics during the open enrollment period. Protecting your personal information is the best line of defense in the fight against health care fraud and abuse. “Never give your Medicare or Social Security numbers to strangers, especially those offering unverifiable free services,” said Lindley-Myers.
The department offers these tips to keep your personal information safe:
Verify that a salesperson is a licensed insurance agent by calling the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-726-7390.
Be cautious of door-to-door sales people. Medicare has no sales representatives, and agents cannot solicit Part D or Medicare Advantage plans at your home without an appointment.
Avoid sales people who offer free lunches for listening to a sales presentation. Federal law prohibits offers of free meals in exchange for signing up for a plan or listening to a presentation on Medicare.
Do not give out personal information to an unlicensed agent. Sales people are not allowed to ask for a Social Security, bank account or credit card number during marketing activities.
Sales people cannot ask for online payments and must send a bill. Once you decide to buy a plan and have verified the agent is licensed, then you may give the agent personal enrollment and billing information.
Consumers with complaints or questions about Medicare can contact CLAIM by calling 1-800-390-3330 or visiting missouriclaim.org.