Missouri program offers free help during Medicare open enrollment

Regional News

(Missourinet)– Roughly 10,000 people age into Medicare healthcare coverage each day in the United States. In Missouri, about 1.16 million individuals are Medicare beneficiaries.

Each year, an open enrollment period gives Missourians on Medicare the chance to review their prescription drug and healthcare coverage options. The state Department of Commerce and Insurance offers free help to Missourians during the open enrollment time underway through December 7. Scott Miniea, executive director of the agency’s CLAIM program, says CLAIM provides free, unbiased counseling and education.

“Basically you need to give your Medicare a checkup every year, just like you would have a checkup every year because every year the options change, the prices can change,” he says.

Miniea says more than 225 certified volunteers are available to help walk Medicare recipients through their coverage options.

“It’s kind of confusing and our counselors are trained to help people understand the differences between all the A, B, C, D’s of Medicare and then what their options are and to make sure they take advantage of the appropriate times to enroll in the different programs and avoid any penalties as well as, of course, helping them save money,” he says.

The department helps about 30,000 to 40,000 individuals each year during open enrollment time.

“The sooner people contact us, the more likely we will be able to help them with plenty of time before the deadline,” he says. “Most of our people who come in during the open enrollment period – that’s when about 40% of our business happens across the year is starting in October through December. During open enrollment, our beneficiary satisfaction survey results say that 95% of the people who come to us recommend us to other people.”

Due to the pandemic, CLAIM volunteers are focusing their counseling efforts by phone. To make an appointment, call 1-800-390-3330 or visit missouriclaim.org Representatives are available 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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