September 23, 2011

DIFP Director Huff addresses volunteer Medicare counselors

More than 150 volunteers from the CLAIM program recognized

Jefferson City, Mo. - DIFP Director John M. Huff on Sept. 20 addressed a gathering of more than 150 citizens who volunteer to help Missouri consumers better understand their Medicare benefits. Huff was the keynote speaker at the CLAIM volunteer recognition and training event. CLAIM is a program, funded by the Department of Insurance and Medicare, dedicated to providing free, expert counseling to Missourians with Medicare.

The more than 150 volunteers attending the conference at the Lake of the Ozarks were preparing for Medicare open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 this year. The federal government has shifted the schedule ahead by one month: open enrollment in previous years began on Nov. 15.

"I want to thank you for your dedication to educating and serving Medicare recipients in our state," Huff said in his remarks at the conference. "Providing top-drawer, free health insurance counseling to Missourians squares perfectly with the consumer protection mission of our department."

He also discussed the department's ongoing efforts to improve health insurance options for Missourians, the high-risk pools that provide health coverage to consumers with pre-existing health conditions, and the department's efforts to serve consumers affected by the Joplin tornado. He also says the department is closely monitoring pricing and other developments with long-term care insurance in Missouri, which is becoming more expensive for consumers.

Finally, Huff recognized 26 individuals from across the state who have volunteered with the CLAIM program for at least 10 years.

Huff encourages consumers to contact a CLAIM counselor during the open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 to review current plans, compare options and choose plans that best meet their needs. It's a way to save money, get better coverage, or both.

Consumers can ask questions by phone or arrange free, one-on-one, in-person counseling by calling 800-390-3330 or visiting