Maine Government News
Insurance Superintendent Highlights Final Days of Medicare Open Enrollment Period and Offers Tips to Protect Consumers While Making Important Decisions
December 4, 2012
Professional & Financial Regulation - Insurance
Superintendent of Insurance Highlights Final Days of Medicare Open Enrollment Period and Offers Tips to Protect Consumers While Making Important Decisions
Each year, Medicare beneficiaries can evaluate and change their health coverage options during open enrollment. Medicare’s 2013 open enrollment period for Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medicare Advantage began October 15 and runs through December 7, 2012. New benefit choices will take effect January 1, 2013.
“Even if you are happy with your current plan, it is still a good idea to look at your options,” recommended Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa. “For most current participants, this will be the only time in which they can make coverage changes, and many plans are changing. A little extra research could result in significant savings.”
In 2012, Maine had approximately 276,460 eligible Medicare beneficiaries according to Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's state health data report, representing about 21% of Maine’s population.
There are many resources available to assist Mainers with their Medicare plan choices. Free Medicare information is available from trained health insurance counselors throughout Maine through the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP).
SHIP Counselors do not sell insurance or recommend policies and their services are confidential. Maine's five Area Agencies on Aging and Legal Services for the Elderly can provide SHIP counseling services. To contact a local Area Agency on Aging, call 1-877-353-3771, and to contact Legal Services for the Elderly (voice & TTY) call 1-800-750-5353 or visit www.mainelse.org. Consumers can also contact the Office of Aging and Disability Services, at 1-800-262-2232 (TTY - Maine relay 711).
Each fall, Medicare beneficiaries receive the Medicare & You Handbook, and program comparisons are available at www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week (TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048).
“This can be a confusing process. We encourage consumers to ask for help soon and not wait until the end of open enrollment,” added Cioppa. “We also want Maine consumers to watch for abusive or aggressive sales tactics.”
Insurance producers marketing Medicare plans are subject to both state and federal regulations. Superintendent Cioppa offers the following tips for consumers to help ensure that they are protected while making these important choices.
Make sure your salesperson is licensed. Please contact the Bureau of Insurance to check the license status of the salesperson.
Understand who you are talking to. Medicare does not have “representatives” to solicit business, so be wary of any salesperson claiming to be one.
Be wary of free meals. Federal regulations prohibit offers of free meals for signing up for a plan or for listening to a Medicare sales presentation.
Expect an appointment. A Medicare salesperson cannot call you at home or go door-to-door unless you have given them permission to do so.
Be wary of additional sales pitches. Federal regulations prohibit the sale of additional insurance products (examples: life insurance or annuities) during any sales or marketing presentation for Medicare prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plans.
Be careful with your personal information. Make sure the person asking for your information is entitled to receive it.
If you are uncomfortable, take advantage of the resources listed above.