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