Medicare deadline is December 7th

November 28, 2013

Time is running out for Oklahoma seniors to enroll in Medicare or make changes to their current plan.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Medicare Assistance Program (MAP) provides free counseling to Oklahoma’s Medicare beneficiaries. By comparing available plans, MAP counselors have helped callers save an average of $2,090 since Oct. 15.

“There are more than 650,000 Oklahomans on Medicare and we work hard to help them with the important process of Open Enrollment,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “Working with our counselors can help uncover savings that will make a big difference in their everyday lives.”

Medicare Open Enrollment began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7. During open enrollment, Medicare-eligible consumers can sign up for coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D prescription drug plan, as well as change their options for the coming year. Oklahoma seniors can take advantage of the free Medicare counseling by calling 1-800-763-2828.

“Medicare beneficiaries have a variety of choices regarding how they receive Medicare benefits, but it can be incredibly confusing,” said Ray Walker, MAP director. “We can help beneficiaries understand their choices and give them the answers they need to make the best possible decisions. There’s less than three weeks left in the Open Enrollment period, so they need to call us for a review as soon as possible.”

During last year’s open enrollment period, MAP counselors helped more than 7,000 Medicare beneficiaries review their plans with average annual savings between $500 and $1,000. MAP counselors are available to answer Medicare questions year-round. Information is also available at www.ok.gov.

The number of health insurance policies canceled in Oklahoma as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been minimized due to the efforts of Doak.

“Here in Oklahoma, my office has always focused on the consumer,” said Doak. “We recognized the possibility of cancellations early on and worked with the state’s largest health insurance companies to lessen the consumer impact. That collaboration led to our approval of their requests to modify policy renewal dates, which allowed a majority of Oklahoma policyholders to keep their existing coverage through 2014.”

Doak said Oklahoma’s insurance market is secure, but President Obama’s administrative fix to the ACA could devastate insurance markets in some states. The warning comes after President Obama announced that he would allow insurance companies to continue to offer existing policies that don’t meet ACA standards for one year.

That decision doesn’t require insurers to extend existing plans, but it does allow them to offer an additional year of coverage. Doak has pledged to continue to work with insurance companies on consumer-focused solutions to Obamacare problems.

“After yet another failed initiative, President Obama is just passing the buck,” said Doak. “How can the federal government make this decision without offering any guidance to the state insurance departments or the insurance carriers? Cancellation notices have already gone out. Rates and plans have already been approved. How is this supposed to work? There are a lot of unanswered questions right now. This is what you get when you pass a bill you haven’t read.”

Oklahomans with health insurance questions can call the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-522-0071.