September 16, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: CHRISTOPHER GOETCHEUS
(617) 521-7333

Division Of Insurance Calls Special Medigap Open Enrollment

Provides further options for seniors affected by loss of Medicare HMO providers

( BOSTON, MA) The Massachusetts Division of Insurance today notified insurers in the Medicare Supplement market of the requirement to offer their products as early as next month in those service areas where doctors or hospitals will not be participating in the Tufts Health Plan Secure Horizons Medicare + Choice plan in 2003.

An emergency bulletin signed by Insurance Commissioner Julie Bowler requires Medicare Supplement insurers to hold a special open enrollment period beginning October 1st and ending December 15th for coverage effective no later than January 1, 2003.

"This will allow Medicare HMO subscribers in 19 communities who might otherwise have to switch physicians or hospitals the option to continue to see the doctors they have come to trust and depend on," said Commissioner Bowler.

The special Medicare Supplement open enrollment will be available to the approximately 11,000 subscribers in six counties where providers have opted to not renew contracts with the Tufts Health Plan Secure Horizons Medicare + Choice plan and is intended to maximize options to subscribers in the following communities: Berkeley, Bourne, Charlestown, Chelsea, Dighton, East Boston, East Taunton, Everett, Falmouth, Lakeville, Marblehead, Mashpee, Middleborough, Revere, Salem, Sandwich, Swampscott, Taunton and Winthrop.

In a gesture to further broaden options for seniors, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts has notified the Division of Insurance that it will make its Medicare Supplement insurance products available to all Medicare-eligible individuals statewide between September 23rd and December 31st.

Seniors with specific questions concerning eligibility for the Medicare Supplement special open enrollment are urged to contact the SHINE (Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders) Program at 1-800-243-4636. Current rates for the available Medicare Supplement insurers in Massachusetts may be found on the Division of Insurance website at www.mass.gov/doi or by phoning the Division of Insurance Consumer Service section at (617) 521-7777 or (413) 785-5526.