MID Urges Seniors to Review Coverage During Medicare Open Enrollment

Posted: October 21, 2013 16:29 by BlogAdmin

Jackson – Mississippi senior citizens and Medicare recipients are today urged by Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney to carefully review the coverage and benefits of their policies during this year’s Medicare open enrollment period. Open enrollment for Medicare prescription drug coverage and Medicare Advantage runs from October 15-December 7, 2013.


During the Medicare annual enrollment period, all Medicare beneficiaries may change their Medicare coverage for the coming year. Beneficiaries should carefully investigate plan benefits and choices. New benefit choices will take effect January 1, 2014. Seniors seeking additional coverage through a Medicare supplement plan can get information in the 2013 Medicare Supplement Shoppers Guide now available on the MID website or by calling the Consumer Services division at 1-800-562-2957.


“It is also important for seniors to understand Medicare is NOT a part of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace and those who are receiving their health insurance benefits through Medicare will continue to do so rather than switch to the Health Insurance Marketplace,” Chaney said.


He added that if a senior purchases a plan through the Marketplace, they lose their Medicare coverage and are not eligible for the Marketplace subsidy. Also, depending on their situation, when the senior decides to leave the Marketplace, a late enrollment penalty for Medicare may apply. Regardless of whether a senior has Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, the federal Marketplace will not affect coverage.


“During difficult economic times, making sure which plan is best for your budget and needs becomes extremely important,” Chaney said.


Chaney also reminds seniors that anyone using questionable or abusive sale practices when talking to you regarding your Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan should be reported to the Mississippi Insurance Department.


State and federal rules are in place to protect consumers against sales and marketing abuses. Individuals who contact you about any type of private Medicare coverage:

       Must be licensed by the state. Check with the Mississippi Insurance Department 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 make 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.


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.



JOINT Mississippi Insurance Department/Mississippi Attorney General Press Release

Posted: October 1, 2013 15:17 by BlogAdmin

Jackson, MS—Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and Attorney General Jim Hood are warning Mississippians to be aware of the con-artists that may emerge as federal and state agencies prepare for the Federal Facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace (FFM) rollout under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

“We see scammers try to take advantage of such transitions, in this case hoping to take advantage of people who are not familiar with the nation’s new health care law,” said Attorney General Hood. 

Starting today, if you are uninsured or buy your own coverage you can enroll for health insurance through the Federal Facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace for coverage beginning as soon as January 1, 2014. 

“The Marketplace will allow you to compare and select plans,” said Commissioner Chaney.  “Although enrollment opens on October 1, there is no need to rush out to purchase a plan, take your time, get as much information as you can before making a decision as to the plan that best suits you and your family’s needs. The federal government regulates and approves the plans for this marketplace. I would caution consumers purchasing through the FFM that they may be limited in their choice of medical providers based on the insurance company networks.”

Scammers Taking Advantage.

Unfortunately, scammers will undoubtedly attempt to take advantage of consumers once the Marketplace takes effect.  In some cases, criminals will try to collect personal or financial information.  In other cases, unscrupulous sales people will try to sell “discount medical plans.”   Those so-called discount plans may be insurance plans that really don’t save you money, or they may not be legitimate health insurance plans at all.

Medicare is not part of Federal Facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace.

If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you don’t need to do anything—you are considered covered. The Marketplace won’t affect your Medicare choices, and your benefits will not change.

Tips to Avoid Scams.

1. The government will not call or email you to solicit enrollment plans.  Your Marketplace options and additional information are available at www.HealthCare.gov or the Help Center at 1-800-318-2596.

2. Anyone who claims they’re enrolling you for coverage through the Marketplace should be verified by contacting www.HealthCare.gov or the Help Center at 1-800-318-2596.

3. Guard your personal information!  If a caller claims they are with the government verifying personal information for a new government health insurance or Medicare card, hang up.  (Medicare isn’t part of the Marketplace established by ACA, so you don't have to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage.)  The information they may seek could include Social Security numbers or bank account  information for “direct deposits.”

4. Be wary of sound-alike government or company names, especially if they list a toll-free number other than the Help Center’s number (1-800-318-2596).

 Legitimate Sources for Information & Coverage Enrollment.

You can learn more about qualified health plans offer in Mississippi through the FFM through several sources:

Website:  www.HealthCare.gov: This is the federal government’s official FFM website.  Here you can now get information, compare plans and coverage options, and you can enroll starting October 1.

Help Center: 1-800-318-2596: The Help Center is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  You can talk with a customer service representative, obtain the same information you’ll find on the website, and you can enroll for coverage starting October 1.

Navigators: Navigators, who are government trained and certified, will help answer Marketplace questions, discuss eligibility and options, and prepare electronic and paper applications to establish eligibility and enroll in coverage through the Marketplace.  On October 1, you’ll find Mississippi Navigators through the federal government’s website or Help Center (see above).  In Mississippi, there are only two approved Navigators:  Universtiy of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson, MS) and Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church Ministries, Inc. (Hernando, MS).         

Certified Application Counselors: These counselors will perform many of the same functions as navigators, including educating consumers and helping people complete applications for coverage.  Counselors might come from community health centers or other health care providers, hospitals or social service agencies.  On October 1, you’ll find Certified Application Counselors through the federal government’s website or Help Center.  

Agents and Brokers: State-licensed health insurance agents and brokers who meet Health Insurance Marketplace requirements may enroll individuals in coverage through the Marketplace. Contact your local agent.

 For more information on this topic, go to www.HealthCare.gov or the Federal Help Center at  1-800-318-2596. Additional information may also be obtained at the Mississippi Insurance Department’s website:  www.mid.ms.gov.  To file a complaint regarding a possible scam, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office by calling 601-359-4230 or 1-800-281-4418.