MID Stresses Reviewing Coverage During 2009 Medicare Open Enrollment

Jackson – The Social Security Administration has announced those receiving
Social Security benefits will not be getting cost-of-living-adjustments in
the coming year. Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney announced today that
Mississippi senior citizens and Medicare recipients should be aware of the
coverage in their policies during Medicare’s 2009 open enrollment period.
Open enrollment for Medicare prescription drug coverage and Medicare
Advantage runs from November 15 – December, 31, 2009.
The Federal Government changes will put added financial burdens on many
recipients.
“Making sure which plan is best for your budget and needs becomes more
critical every day,” Chaney said.
“Some plans have chosen not to renew their contract with the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), meaning some seniors may be forced to
choose a new option. Carefully examine all available plans during each
annual enrollment period, because your current plan may no longer meet your
needs. Be sure to check the features of your plan, including the list of
drugs covered, the premium, deductible, and cost-sharing you pay, and any
coverage gap.”

Chaney also reminds seniors that anyone using questionable or abusive sales
practices when talking to you regarding your Medicare Advantage or
prescription drug plan should be reported to the Mississippi Insurance
Department (MID).
Certain Medicare Advantage plans (including some with prescription drug
coverage) have chosen not to renew their contracts with CMS for 2010. If you
have received notice that your plan will not renew in 2010, you should have
received information about your options for selecting a new Medicare
Advantage plan or returning to original Medicare. If you return to original
Medicare, you can still apply for Medicare prescription drug coverage and/or
Medicare supplement (Medigap) coverage.
State and federal rules are in place to protect consumers against abuses in
the marketing and sales of Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare
Advantage plans. Individuals who contact you about any type of private
Medicare coverage:
Must be licensed by the state. Check with the Mississippi Insurance
Department (MID) to make sure the salesperson is a licensed agent.
May not make unsolicited contact, such as door-to-door sales, cold calls or
approaching you in a parking lot.
Must have made an appointment before coming to your home.
Must arrange in advance the type of products that will be discussed during a
scheduled sales appointment. At the appointment, the salesperson may not try
to sell you other types of insurance coverage other than the type(s) agreed
upon in advance.
May not try to sell you non-health care related products (like a life
insurance policy or an annuity) during a sales or marketing presentation of
a Medicare prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plan.
May not attempt to sell you a plan in certain health care settings, such as
a doctor’s office or a pharmacy.
May not attempt to sell you a plan at an educational event.
May not offer you free meals at promotional or sales events.
May not offer you gifts or other promotional items whose value is in excess
of $15.

To protect Mississippians from becoming victims of Medicare fraud, the MID
reminds consumers of these safety tips.
. Beware of door-to-door sales people. Remember, agents cannot
solicit business at your home without an appointment. Do not allow uninvited
agents into your home.
. Do not give out personal information, such as Social Security
numbers, bank account numbers or credit card numbers to anyone you have not
verified as a licensed agent. People are not allowed to request such
personal information in their marketing activities and cannot ask for
payment over the Internet. They must send you a bill. Once you decide to
purchase a plan and have verified that the agent is licensed, you may give
the agent personal information to assist in enrollment and billing.
Verify that the plan you have chosen is an approved Medicare plan. All of
the approved plans are available at www.medicare.gov or by calling
1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Federal assistance is available to Medicare beneficiaries who meet certain
income requirements. If you think you may qualify, call the Social Security
Administration at 1-800-SSA-1213 (1-800-772-1213). For more information
about your Medicare prescription drug options including an online Medicare
Prescription Drug Plan Finder, go to www.medicare.gov.
If you believe you have been a victim of abusive sales practices, contact
the MID Consumer Services Division at 800-562-2957 or go to the MID website
at www.mid.state.ms.us.

MID Press Release
11/18/9