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CLAIM helps metro seniors navigate Medicare open enrollment

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A federally-funded state program is aiming to help seniors get the most out of their money during the 2017 Medicare open enrollment, which began Sunday and ends December 7, 2017.

Shirley Bowman said the flood of insurance ads in the mail targeting seniors have her double-checking her Medicare coverage.

"When you see all the ads on TV and you think, you know, I don’t understand that and if it’s right off the top of your head and you say oh yeah, I was wondering about that!" she said.

It's why the senior citizen met with CLAIM Regional Trainer Carolyn Prim face-to-face at a free enrollment event Monday in Lone Jack, MO at the Mid-Continent Public Library. CLAIM is the state's health insurance assistance program.

"So many seniors are not computer savvy and a lot of them don’t even have computers," Bowman said.

Prim agreed: "Some of our seniors don’t know how to navigate the system, and they’d rather not do that, and so that’s why we’re here to help them."

Monday's event is one of nearly a dozen scheduled around the metro and state over the next couple weeks. Counselors sit down with people one-on-one to go over current coverage, explore available, cheaper options; staff will even enter your medication list to help you get the most for your money.

"We’re comparing plans, we’re comparing pharmacies for these individuals; we how much the premium is and find out what the deductibles are for all of these plans," Prim said.

Prim explained there is Original Medicare which includes supplemental plans, or Advantage Plans: providers who advertise, similar to the PPO or HMO plans that many Americans use. CLAIM helps seniors sort through it all.

"It depends on a person’s health; it depends on their finances. We’re able to look at all those things to help them make a decision," she said.

Bowman said the event information was critical, especially for older seniors.

"I think a lot of older people will be fearful. I just am kind of confused and concerned," she said.

Prim said all CLAIM services cost nothing and the program's goal is simply to help seniors navigate what can be a confusing, overwhelming system.

"All of our services are free and unbiased. None of us work for insurance companies, we’re just here to provide this great service," said Prim.