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Commerce Department Urges Minnesotans to Prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment

10/15/2014 10:14:43 AM

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN The Minnesota Department of Commerce urges seniors to use Medicare Open Enrollment as an opportunity to evaluate their coverage options. The Department reminds seniors that insurance policies can change, making it important to review any notices regarding changes from their insurance companies. Seniors should use open enrollment as an opportunity to reexamine their coverage and find a policy that fits their budget and health needs.

Open Enrollment is the only time of year when everyone on Medicare can make changes to their coverage for the upcoming year, said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. I recommend that seniors carefully review their coverage options. It s possible to save a lot of money by simply switching to a lower cost Medicare Supplement plan.

Open Enrollment begins on October 15 and ends on December 7, 2014. New coverage will begin on January 1, 2015. To join in a new plan, seniors can either enroll through Medicare or by calling the new plan. Seniors do not need to do anything if they elect not to make any changes for the next coverage year.

To help Minnesota seniors make informed decisions regarding their Medicare options, the Commerce Department has the following tips and reminders for Medicare Open Enrollment:

MNsure, Minnesota s Health Insurance Marketplace

MNsure is for people who do not have health insurance already through a job or government program, like Medicare. MNsure does not change any of the benefits or coverage for seniors who are on Medicare. The enrollment periods for MNsure and Medicare do overlap, so consumers should make certain that the health coverage options are Medicare plans and not plans available through MNsure.

Be on the Lookout for Fraud and Scams

Seniors need to know that it is illegal to sell seniors a plan through MNsure if the agent or broker knows that their client currently has a Medicare plan. Since the enrollment periods overlap, this may invite more fraudulent activity by suggesting unsuitable products to consumers and seniors need to be aware of their rights.

Seniors need to protect themselves from fraud. Education and getting good help, are the best defenses against becoming a victim - remember that your insurance agent or broker cannot imply that they are endorsed by Medicare, solicit door-to-door, contact you by phone or email (unless the consumer initiated the call), or attempt to sell non-health related products such as life insurance or annuities during educational open houses.

Selecting a Medicare Part D Plan

Medicare Part D is supplemental coverage offered by private insurance companies that helps pay for prescription costs. Shop around to see which plan is likely to save the most money. Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage.

Shop around for your Medigap Policy

Medicare Supplement Insurance policies obtained through private insurance companies (also called Medigap) offer coverage and services that are not provided by Original Medicare and premiums can vary widely from company to company - be sure to compare plans and policies.

Questions about Medicare Open Enrollment?

  • Visit the Medicare website or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227)

  • Call the Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433 to select or enroll in a plan

Open Enrollment for Medicare is October 15 through December 7, 2014. For information on special enrollment periods, go to the Medicare Website for Special Enrollment Periods.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is here to help.

Seniors can visit the Commerce Department s Medicare Toolkit for more information about Medicare Open Enrollment, insurance FAQs, and tips for spotting and preventing fraud. Consumers should call the Department s Consumer Services Center at 651-539-1600 or toll-free at 1-800-657-3602 (in Greater Minnesota) if you have any questions or concerns about your insurance agent or if you believe you have been a victim of a scam or fraud.

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