News for Missourians

New Medicare Plan Finder

i Aug 30th No Comments by

CMS NEWS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27th, 2019
Contact: CMS Media Relations
(202) 690-6145 | CMS Media Inquiries

Medicare Plan Finder Gets an Upgrade for the First Time in a Decade
It’s Now Easier to Compare Coverage Options and Shop for Medicare Health and Drug Plans
For the first time in a decade, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today launched a modernized and redesigned Medicare Plan Finder. The Medicare Plan Finder, the most used tool on Medicare.gov, allows users to shop and compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. There are more than 60 million people with Medicare coverage. The updated Medicare Plan Finder also provides them and their caregivers with a personalized experience through a mobile friendly and easy-to-read design that will help them learn about different options and select coverage that best meets their health needs. The new Plan Finder walks users through the Medicare Advantage and Part D enrollment process from start to finish and allows people to view and compare many of the supplemental benefits that Medicare Advantage plans offer.
These changes are part of the Trump Administration’s eMedicare initiative – which expands and improves on current Medicare consumer service options. CMS is improving our online Medicare tools to meet the needs of a growing number of tech savvy beneficiaries. The online tools do not replace Medicare’s traditional customer service options. People with Medicare will continue to have access to paper copies of the Medicare & You handbook and be able get help over the phone using 1-800-MEDICARE.
“President Trump has made it clear that he wants to protect and strengthen Medicare.” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “The redesigned Medicare Plan Finder is another example of how CMS is empowering beneficiaries with price and quality information to take advantage of lower rates and new benefits in Medicare Advantage and Part D.”
In 2019, CMS added nearly 600 Medicare Advantage plans with average premiums declining to their lowest levels in 6 years. Over the past three years, average Part D basic premiums have decreased by 13.5 percent, from $34.70 in 2017 to a projected $30 in 2020, saving beneficiaries about $1.9 billion in premium costs over that time.
The redesigned Medicare Plan Finder will make it easier for beneficiaries to see these changes and to:
• Compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies;
• Compare coverage options on their smartphones and tablets;
• Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans side-by-side;
• Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits;
• Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets their needs.
As part of a phased rollout, both the old and new Plan Finder will be available and run in parallel through the end of September 2019, to allow time for users to try out and become familiar with the new version. The new Plan Finder has been in use at the 1-800-MEDICARE call centers for over a month already. CMS has streamlined the information on the new Plan Finder and has conducted consumer testing throughout the development of the new Medicare Plan Finder to ensure that the information that is displayed is complete, understandable and is in plain language. In addition, CMS collaborated with stakeholders to include improvements in the new Plan Finder that directly addresses a number of issues with the old Plan Finder. For example, CMS has integrated information about Medicare coverage options, clarified the cost-savings benefits of low income subsidy programs, added functionality to use actual claims data to help build more accurate drug lists, streamlined the end-to-end flow for users, and ensured that mobile optimization allows for easy use on the device the user prefers – desktop, tablet, or smartphone. In 2018, approximately 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries accessed Medicare Plan Finder on mobile devices, an increase of 40 percent from 2017.
CMS has been offering in-person and online training on the new Plan Finder throughout the summer and we plan to offer an additional webinar session in September. We are also producing several other tools to aid with learning the new Plan Finder, including videos and tip sheets.
“We want consumers to have the best tool possible when open enrollment begins on October 15. Try it out and let us know what you think,” said Administrator Verma.
CMS annually provides Medicare health and drug plan data for private sector developers and researchers to use to create innovative new products. CMS intends to release the real-time Medicare plan data in an API format by the end of this year to make it easier for the private sector to create additional tools to help beneficiaries make informed health coverage decisions.
In addition to upgrading Medicare Plan Finder, CMS has redesigned the Medicare.gov homepage and refreshed the personalized MyMedicare.gov portal to create a more seamless, easy to navigate, personalized online experience for people with Medicare.
Approximately 10,000 people join Medicare each day. Today’s announcement builds on the eMedicare initiative that first launched in 2018 to deliver simple tools and information to current and future Medicare beneficiaries. Other new tools launched under the initiative that seeks to deliver personalized and customized information that Medicare beneficiaries prefer include:
• The “What’s Covered” app that tells people what’s covered and what’s not in Original Medicare.
• A price transparency tool that lets consumers compare Medicare payments and copayments of certain procedures performed in both hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgical centers.
• Interactive online decision support to help people better understand and evaluate their Medicare coverage options and costs between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage;
• An online service that lets people quickly see how different coverage choices will affect their estimated out-of-pocket costs;
• Webchat option in Medicare Plan Finder helps people get on-the-spot support; and
• Easy-to-use surveys across Medicare.gov so consumers can continue to offer feedback about their online experiences.
Medicare Open Enrollment is the time for people with Medicare to review their health coverage. It begins on October 15, 2019, and ends December 7, 2019. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so people with Medicare should look at their coverage choices and decide on the options that best fit their health needs. They can visit Medicare.gov (https://www.medicare.gov), call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact their State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Those people with Medicare who do not wish to change their current coverage do not need to re-enroll in order to keep their current coverage.
For royalty-free, downloadable images of individuals using the new Medicare Plan Finder in English and Spanish to use for republishing, please visit: https://downloads.cms.gov/media/plan-finder-images.zip.
For a Spanish version of this press release, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/sites/drupal/files/2019-08/08-27-2019%20Press%20Release%20Spanish%20Plan%20Finder%20Redesign.pdf

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Department Officially Changes Name to the Department of Commerce and Insurance

i Aug 30th No Comments by

Name change was a part of the reorganization of Missouri state agencies

Jefferson City, Mo– During his January 2019 State of the State address, Governor Mike Parson announced his intention to issue executive orders for the purpose of improving economic and workforce development in Missouri. One of those executive orders called for some shifts to better align policy areas in state agencies and to change the name of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) to the Department of Commerce and Insurance (DCI). The Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Office of the Public Counsel (OPC) were moved from the Department of Economic Development to the newly named Department of Commerce and Insurance. These changes became effective today.

This move was needed in order to have similar regulatory functions under one department umbrella. The Public Service Commission and the Office of the Public Counsel will join the existing regulatory divisions of DCI which include Insurance, Finance, Credit Unions and Professional Registration.

“Moving the PSC and OPC to the Department of Commerce and Insurance made good strategic sense,” said Chlora Lindley-Myers, Director of DCI. “We have similar missions and fully understand the regulatory environment. We’re very pleased to welcome our new colleagues to the department.”

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department’s seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

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New grant focuses on providing assistance to at risk populations in 9 rural Missouri counties

i Mar 11th No Comments by

Missouri CLAIM will provide a one-stop shop to provide screening and application help for multiple assistance programs

Jefferson City, Mo– The Missouri Department of Insurance announced a new grant from the National Council on Aging’s Center for Benefits Access (NCOA). The Benefit Enrollment Center (BEC) Grant provides funding for a twenty month period (January 2019 – September 2020) to the Department to implement a Benefit Enrollment Center in 9 rural Missouri counties.

Benefit Enrollment Centers (BEC) use person-centered strategies in a coordinated, community-wide approach to find and enroll Medicare beneficiaries—both seniors aged 65+ years and adults living with disabilities — who have limited income and resources to access available benefits, with the primary focus being on the following five core benefit programs:

  • Medicare Part D Extra Help (or Low-Income Subsidy, LIS)
  • Medicare Savings Programs (MSP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps)
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

A “person-centered” approach is one in which someone is screened for and assisted with applying for multiple benefits at one time, based on that individual’s needs. Currently the department’s CLAIM program assists Missourians with the first three of these core services through the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) funding. This additional grant will allow CLAIM to assist 1,000 individuals to apply for and receive much needed assistance for which they may qualify.

The BEC grant focuses on 9 rural counties, and senior and disabled individuals in those counties who are most in need of the services. The target area includes these central Missouri counties: Callaway, Camden, Cole, Laclede, Miller, Morgan, Moniteau, Osage and Pulaski. 

The total population in these targeted counties is 328,992, of which:

  • 15.77% are age 65 and older
  • 16.42% have a disability (higher than MO at 14.44% and the US at 12.52%)
  • 15.54% live at or below FPL. Per capita income is $23,004, below the MO average of $27,044;
  • Over 17.25% of the population receives Medicaid
  • 14.44% of the adult population, age 18-64, lacks health insurance

Current Medicare program data indicate there are 12,973 disabled individuals residing in this defined area, 15,881 are low-income, and 13,802 are estimated to need and be eligible for MSP.

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department’s seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

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MINIEA IS NEW PRIMARIS FOUNDATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

i Feb 14th No Comments by

February 14, 2019

By Jodie Jackson

COLUMBIA, MO. – Scott Miniea is the new executive director of the Primaris Foundation, taking the reins from Carol Beahan, who retired Jan. 30 after a 30-year career with Primaris.

Primaris CEO Richard A. Royer made the announcement of Miniea’s new post on Feb. 8. Primaris is a healthcare consulting and services firm; the Primaris Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps individuals and communities live healthier lives. The Foundation operates two primary programs: CLAIM, the Missouri State Health Insurance Assistance Program, and Insurance Counseling Services, or ICS.

“He brings a record of achievement here and a strong experience base elsewhere,” Royer said, noting that Miniea will work with “remarkably talented” staff. “With this team, the Foundation is in good hands,” Royer said.

Miniea said Beahan is “a living legend … who built the program into what it is” as executive director of the not-for-profit Foundation that was created in 2005. Miniea said he will be in regular contact with Beahan “as her mentorship and experience are invaluable to the program.”

(For more about Beahan’s retirement and tenure with the Primaris Foundation, listen toEpisode 59 of the Quality Talk podcast.)

Miniea will also make it a priority to continue nurturing the Foundation’s relationship with community partners that are vital in helping both CLAIM and ICS “educate and empower individuals and communities to make informed decisions in a complex healthcare environment.”

“As a CLAIM volunteer myself and an ACA insurance counselor and community health worker, I know how challenging the work we all do can be – and how important,” Miniea said. He served as the ICS director for the past 18 months and will remain focused on “ensuring as many Missourians as possible have health insurance coverage” as well as access to health care to improve their own lives and the health of their communities.

Carol Beahan: Thirty Years Have Gone By Very Quickly

i Jan 30th No Comments by
Carol Beahan, executive director of the Primaris Foundation and CLAIM program director, retires to cap off her 30-year career on Jan. 30, 2019, the 30th anniversary of the day she started working for the CLAIM program.https://soundcloud.com/primaris_health/ep-59-primaris-foundation-executive-director-carol-beahan

“I thought that would be a really good date to end on,” she says. “Thirty years have gone by very quickly.”

Quality Talk host Jodie Jackson Jr. explains that as one of the more popular Quality Talk guests, “and one of my all-time favorite people,” it was only fitting that Carol introduce Episode 59 of Quality Talk. This is Carol’s fifth episode, three of which were “Coffee With CLAIM” roundtable discussions with Carol and the CLAIM staff and regional liaisons.

Previous episodes featuring Carol Beahan and her team

Episode 4, Medicare Open Enrollment

Episode 6, Medicare Panel Discussion

Episode 27, Medicare Roundtable, “Coffee With CLAIM”

Episode 51, CLAIM Roundtable

Episode 59. 

3:07 – “It takes a while to make that decision about retiring.”

10:10 – Carol recalls the advent of Medicare Part D and other innovations. More than that, she has good memories of helping both policy-makers and beneficiaries understand Medicare. “We like to tell the stories behind those numbers.”

carol 3

14:59 – Baby Boomers aging into Medicare. “That’s been a new challenge for us. How to reach them and to serve them.” The Quality Talk podcast is one response. “We’re trying to improve our technology.” Also, she’s had to adjust to leadership changes in many agencies and organizations that CLAIM and the Foundation comes into contact with. “You’re always having to educate the community and the healthcare providers.”

19:35 – “It’s the people I work with right now that have really impressed me.”…“And I hope I encourage other people … to learn something new.”

Hail to the chief.

25:11 – Carol once rubbed shoulders with a president. “Up close and personal” with President George W. Bush at a Medicare Part D event.

28:22 – “My team is the most awesome team in the world.” She recognizes CLAIM Lead Trainer Tracey Wetzel, “My goodness, if I could just download her brain and put it into mine. She knows how to find answers.” Carol and Tracey worked together for 15 years.

32:04 – Carol’s professional life before Primaris: started working in Kansas for the state as an income maintenance workers (processing applications for assistance, including food stamps and Medicaid eligibility), then worked for home health agency and coordinated home delivered meal program in Des Moines, Iowa.
“That’s where I really think I developed my interest in working with older adults.” Also coordinated Head Start health and nutrition program in Missouri and was then a nutrition administrator for an Area Agency on Aging in Cole County.

‘That legacy will carry on.’

What’s the next step of your journey? “I think for the first 30 days, I’m not going to read one email. I’m going to take an email diet … Then I will probably find just the right place to be.” Volunteering somewhere, traveling, enjoying her five grandchildren. “I know I will be involved with the community. I’m a people person. I won’t be sitting at home all day.”

38:17 – In this age of technology and digital community, real connections “has to be a priority.”

“I always says that good manners go a long way. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you,’ being courteous and being able to listen to people is important … I hope we never lose that.”

“I know whoever has the fortunate opportunity to step into these shoes will do a great job. They get a great team, which is the No. 1 piece that makes you good. I work with awesome people. They do a lot. They expect a lot. They’re willing to go the extra mile.”

42:05 – “I am honored … I am in awe sometimes that I’ve had the opportunities that I’ve had. I’ve got to work with some people who have really made a difference. I think the work we do here at Primaris – it affects people. It affects healthcare providers. It affects the community … We just have an opportunity to make a difference. I know that legacy will carry on.”

Be sure to stay connected with us on Twitter – our handle is @Quality_Talk – and by emailing the host at jjackson@primaris.org. You can stream Quality Talk on SoundCloud or listen on iTunes.


More about CLAIM.

CLAIM stands for “Community Leaders Assisting the Insured of Missouri.” We have been the official State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for Missouri since 1993.

We are a nonprofit organization and all of our services are free, unbiased and confidential. We are not an insurance agency. We do not sell anything and our counselors do not ask for money.

CLAIM has more than 300 volunteer counselors throughout Missouri providing local Medicare counseling in their communities. Volunteers receive extensive training to become a certified Medicare counselor, and continue to receive updates and trainings on a regular basis.

Primaris Foundation provides the services for the CLAIM program through a contract with the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP). Funding is provided by the Administration for Community Living with oversight by DIFP.

Topics: Quality Talk podcast

New App Displays What Original Medicare Covers

i Jan 28th No Comments by

CMS NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2019

Contact: CMS Media Relations
(202) 690-6145 | CMS Media Inquiries
For public inquiries, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

 

New App Displays What Original Medicare Covers
Newest eMedicare Tool Provides Valuable Information to Mobile Users

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new app that gives consumers a modernized Medicare experience with direct access on a mobile device to some of the most-used content on Medicare.gov.

The new “What’s Covered” app lets people with Original Medicare, caregivers and others quickly see whether Medicare covers a specific medical item or service. Consumers can now use their mobile device to more easily get accurate, consistent Original Medicare coverage information in the doctor’s office, the hospital, or anywhere else they use their mobile device. In addition to the “What’s Covered” app, through Blue Button 2.0 the agency is enabling beneficiaries to connect their claims data to applications and tools developed by innovative private-sector companies to help them understand, use, and share their health data.

“eMedicare is one of several initiatives focused on modernizing Medicare and empowering patients with information they need to get the best value from their Medicare coverage,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “President Trump is delivering on his commitment to Medicare by modernizing tools that deliver health information in the most convenient way possible. This new app is the next in a suite of products designed to give consumers more access and control over their Medicare information.”

CMS created the app to meet the needs of the growing population of people with Medicare. The Medicare population is projected to increase almost 50 percent by 2030—from 54 million beneficiaries in 2015 to more than 80 million beneficiaries in 2030. As of 2016, about two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries indicate they use the Internet daily or almost daily (65 percent). Questions about what Medicare covers are some of the most frequent inquiries that CMS receives. There are approximately 15 million page views annually for coverage-related content on Medicare.gov and 1-800 MEDICARE receives over 3 million coverage-related calls each year.

CMS launched the eMedicare initiative in 2018 to empower beneficiaries with cost and quality information. Other tools in the eMedicare suite include:

  • Enhanced interactive online decision support to help people better understand and evaluate their Medicare coverage options and costs between Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
  • A new online service that lets people quickly see how different coverage choices will affect their estimated out-of-pocket costs.
  • New price transparency tools that let consumers compare the national average costs of certain procedures between settings, so people can see what they’ll pay for procedures done in a hospital outpatient department versus an ambulatory surgical center.
  • A new webchat option in the Medicare Plan Finder.
  • New easy-to-use surveys across Medicare.gov so consumers can continue to tell us what they want.

The eMedicare initiative expands and improves on current consumer service options. People with Medicare will continue to have access to paper copies of the Medicare & You handbook and Medicare Summary Notices.

The What’s Covered app is available for free in both Google Play and the Apple App Store. The app is available in Google Play at:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.medicare.coverage, and is available in the Apple App Store at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/whats-covered/id1444143600?mt=8.

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Scam Alert!

i Jan 17th No Comments by

Dear Colleague:

We have become aware of reports of fraudulent telephone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Social Security Administration (SSA). In them, unknown callers are using threatening language to warn unknowing victims that they will be arrested or face other legal action if they fail to call a provided phone number or press the number indicated in the message to address the issue. In some instances, these unknown callers switch tactics and communicate that they want to help an individual with activating a suspended Social Security number. Such calls are a scam, and are not coming from official SSA representatives.

We encourage you to inform your members and extended networks not to engage with such callers, and to report any suspicious calls to Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General by calling 1-800-269-0271 or submitting a report on the OIG website. We also urge you to read and share our Social Security Matters blog, which provides more information on the nature of these fraudulent calls, as well as instructions on how to report such activity.

Social Security is committed to protecting the privacy and security of the people we serve. We appreciate your help in spreading the word about this important topic.

Sincerely,

Dawn Bystry
Acting Deputy Associate Commissioner
Office of Strategic and Digital Communications
(T) 410-965-1804

@SSAOutreach

 

COFFEE WITH CLAIM: STEP-BY-STEP TIPS FOR MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT

i Nov 29th No Comments by

Written by Jodie Jackson

Spoiler alert: You’re about to get a lively, fun, crash course on Medicare.

“Coffee With CLAIM” is Quality Talk’s fifth Medicare-related episode, highlighting the work CLAIM does as Missouri’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Though CLAIM works in Missouri, the information presented in this episode applies to all SHIP programs and Medicare beneficiaries across the country.

Put simply, “We help people navigate Medicare,” says Carol Beahan, CLAIM executive director.

18-196-CL 25 years banner-01

CLAIM staff featured in this conversation with Quality Talk host Jodie Jackson Jr. and Beahan also includes Tracey Wetzel, lead trainer; Xavier Vaughn, Outreach/MIPPA project coordinator; Cindy Carr, Region 1 liaison (central Missouri); Julia Allen, Region 2 liaison (eastern Missouri, St. Louis area); Stacey Childs, Region 5 liaison (southwest Missouri); CLAIM newcomer Kori Ross, Region 6 liaison (Kansas City metro area and northwest Missouri); and Elizabeth Swanson, Region 7 liaison (northeast Missouri) and AmeriCorps project manager.

The conversation focuses on the annual enrollment period, Oct. 15-Dec. 7, with discussion also touching on the new Medicare cards that beneficiaries have already received or will receive – depending on the area of the coutry.

Previous episodes of Quality Talk that discussed Medicare topics and questions included Episode 27, “Coffee With CLAIM: Aging Into Medicare,” Episode 10, “New Medicare Cards Are Coming,” and Episode 6, “Medicare Panel Discussion.”Episode 4 featured vital information and tips for the 2017 fall Medicare open enrollment period.

Topics: Medicare enrollment

Hang up on spoofed SSA calls

i Nov 2nd No Comments by

If you get a call that looks like it’s from the Social Security Administration (SSA), think twice. Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information. Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number – often one that looks legit. Here are few things you should know about these so-called SSA calls.

These scam calls are happening across the nation, according to SSA: Your phone rings. Your caller ID shows that it’s the SSA calling from 1-800-772-1213. The caller says he works for the Social Security Administration and needs your personal information – like your Social Security number – to increase your benefits payments. (Or he threatens to cut off your benefits if you don’t give the information.) But it’s not really the Social Security Administration calling. Yes, it is the SSA’s real phone number, but the scammers on the phone are spoofing the number to make the call look real.

What can you do if you get one of these calls? Hang up. Remember:

SSA will not threaten you. Real SSA employees will never threaten you to get personal information. They also won’t promise to increase your benefits in exchange for information. If they do, it’s a scam.

If you have any doubt, hang up and call SSA directly. Call 1-800-772-1213 – that really is the phone number for the Social Security Administration. If you dial that number, you know who you’re getting. But remember that you can’t trust caller ID. If a call comes in from that number, you can’t be sure it’s really SSA calling.

If you get a spoofed call, report it. If someone calls, claiming to be from SSA and asking for information like your Social Security number, report it to SSA’s Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report. You can also report these calls to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

For more tips, check out the FTC’s How to Stop Unwanted Calls and Government Imposter Scams. If you think someone has misused your personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and find out what steps to take.

Warsaw Retirees Find A Sense Of Community Through Volunteerism

i Jul 27th No Comments by
Jim and Pat Chambers worked in information technology and computer security in Evansville, Indiana, until 2008 when they retired. Seven years ago, after moving to Warsaw and building a house, they decided to take on a mission that would serve their community. They became volunteer Missouri State Certified Medicare counselors, offering free counseling on Thursday mornings at First United Methodist Church of Warsaw.  “We are re-certified each year with continuing education and mandatory tests,” said Jim Chambers. “We typically meet and assist over 250 people annually.  We have no insurance affiliations.  All of our services are free.  Our only goal is to provide Medicare information so people can make informed decisions on their own.”
“We take walk-ins, and those who want to make an appointment can call 660-530-2644,” said Pat Chambers. “Our hours are usually from 9 AM to 12 PM. We may see two to four people on Thursday mornings except during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment (that takes place in the fall.) This is the time when people can change their prescription coverage, and as many as 10 people will need counseling in a week.  We work overtime during that period of time, offering counseling on Fridays too.”
Jim Chambers provided a short list of the services that he and his wife provide during their counseling. 1.) Help people determine which prescription plan is the best for their current situation. We currently have 23 plans in the Warsaw zip code. 2.) Educate new Medicare enrollees. There are many more options than most people realize. Some of these options are only available for a limited time. 3.) Assist Medicare clients in completing forms for low income subsidies. These are substantial amounts for some people. 4.) Assist Medicare clients to better understand their Medicare, doctor and hospital bills. 5.) Help submit Medicare appeals when Medicare guidelines are not followed; especially regarding billing practices. 6.) Provide education about what Medicare does and does not cover. 7.) During open enrollment periods, assist clients with changing plans. 8.) Last, but not least. We meet with people face to face right here in Warsaw at the First United Methodist Church so they do not have to speak to someone over the phone or deal with a computer.
“Since we started seven years ago, we have met many people here in Warsaw and have made many friends,” said Jim Chambers. “We’re very proud to be contributing to our community and to provide an important Medicare service at no charge.”There are two ways that the Chambers get the public to know about their services. CLAIM is the Missouri State Health Insurance Assistance Program. When local people call this nonprofit organization, representatives often refer them to the Chambers who, in turn, make calls to these potential clients to offer their services. The other way their services become public knowledge is through word of mouth.  That is how most of the counseling sessions take place now.
Pat Chambers said that the majority of people they serve are senior citizens, but there are also younger people who are on Medicare Disability, and adult children of Medicare recipients come in for counseling so they can help their parents made health decisions. The Chambers help new beneficiaries all year long.
“Sometimes adult children of Medicare beneficiaries come to us for guidance when they think their parents are being released too early from a hospital stay,” said Pat Chambers. “And, some people have insurance agents, but they will come to us first to talk about what questions to ask their agents.”She said that the satisfaction she and her husband get from their volunteer work is the people they deal with. She said that they get to help them stay on track. Jim Chambers grew up in St. Joseph, and was a member of the Bass Club, so he learned a lot about Truman Lake. When he met and married Pat in Evansville, they took vacations in Warsaw because they are outdoor people. It was easy for them to choose the area as their retirement home. They work Thursdays throughout the year, managing to take a week or two off to vacation.
By: Judy Kramer
County Reporter