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Jefferson City -- Missourians with Medicare have an opportunity to review their plan options and costs during open enrollment, starting Oct. 15.

Each year, the open enrollment period which runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, presents Missourians with the opportunity to change their Medicare Part D coverage or Medicare Advantage plans. To help consumers choose a plan to best meet their individual needs, the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance offers free assistance to Missourians who are eligible for Medicare and their caregivers through the department's CLAIM program.

CLAIM provides free, unbiased counseling and education to Missourians with Medicare. With over 225 trained and certified volunteer counselors, the program helps with applications for and enrollment into health insurance, including Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage and programs to help with Medicare Part B and D costs. They are also able to answer questions about Medicare, Medicaid/MO HealthNet, Medicare Advantage, or supplemental insurance. The volunteer counselors focus on helping consumers understand the Medicare appeals process and assist them in the process in whatever capacity is necessary.

"Last fall during the annual enrollment period, six CLAIM AmeriCorps Members saved Missourians with Medicare nearly $110,000 by helping them enroll in a different Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan for 2020, or enroll in a Medicare Savings Program, if they were qualified," said Scott Miniea, Executive Director of the Missouri CLAIM program.

While in-person appointments have always been available, this year CLAIM volunteers are focusing on their strong phone counseling abilities. This has always been offered, and CLAIM volunteers were ready and available to move their services away from in-person events and toward phone appointments to protect their clients who fall into the highest risk category for covid-19.

"I encourage all Missourians with Medicare to take time to review their plans every year, said Chlora Lindley-Myers, director of the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance. "Plans and personal circumstances change from year to year, and it's important for everyone to get the best and most cost effective option to suit their needs."

Missourians with Medicare can make an appointment to meet with a CLAIM counselor by calling 1-800-390-3330 or visiting missouri

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