Medicare open enrollment begins

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COLUMBIA - Open enrollment for Missouri Medicare began Thursday, and with it the CLAIM program will now be offering assistance to Missourians.

Open enrollment offers beneficiaries the option to alter their current Medicare coverage plans. This seven week period from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 is the only time most people will have the flexibility to change their Part D and Advantage health care plans. 

CLAIM offers free, confidential counseling to help people make the best decisions on their health care and choose plans that best suit their needs.

"Part D is Medicare prescription drug program," said program director Carol Beahan. "Any person that is on Medicare is eligible for that program. We have the opportunity during this time to see if the plan a person may be enrolled in now is the best coverage for them or perhaps there may be a better plan out for them. We don't sell insurance so we use the Medicare website to help people make that choice." 

Beahan recommended three steps to follow when considering altering coverage. The first is to check the health and drug coverage. Then, assess the plan's costs, benefits, and rules for 2016. After that, beneficiaries are encouraged to compare plans. Lastly, buyers should lower their costs wherever possible.

The organization is comprised of both volunteers and paid staff. It has 300 volunteers in more than 170 locations across the state. Volunteers are also required to complete a 28 hour certification course and take 12 hours of continuing education courses throughout the year. 

The department of insurance funds this program through a grant. For more information citizens can call 1-800-390-3330 or visit www.missouriclaim.org for more information. 

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