Medicare Assistance Bureau Innovates to Serve Residents During COVID-19

More ways to receive Medicare counseling and information as Open Enrollment approaches, Bureau earns federal grants to support efforts

When COVID-19 required cancellation of the Department of Insurance Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau series of statewide Welcome to Medicare in-person events, the team responded rapidly, engaging with residents in new ways and offering their free, one-on-one Medicare counseling remotely. The Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau (DMAB) has provided more than 2,930 counseling sessions so far this year, saving beneficiaries more than $192,000 in premiums through application assistance.

“We are all facing new challenges due to COVID-19, and I’m proud that our DMAB team has found ways to communicate with Medicare beneficiaries and made Medicare education and empowerment more accessible despite the inability to offer in-person events,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro.

DMAB will engage in thousands of counseling sessions in the coming months, as Medicare Open Enrollment takes place October 15 through December 7. During this time, beneficiaries can make changes to their health insurance coverage and review existing coverage against other options. DMAB will offer virtual Open Enrollment appointments throughout this period, available via Webex, Duo, and Skype, as well as by phone. Residents are encouraged to register for a account prior to their counseling session so that DMAB can generate personalized plan comparisons.

“Many people have questions about Medicare and don’t know where to start, and COVID-19 has only increased the stress of choosing the right healthcare plans. We are here to help people in Delaware deal with the complex and often confusing health insurance system,” said DMAB Director Lakia Turner, “and, we’re more accessible than ever through our new virtual programs.”

DMAB began to offer virtual Welcome to Medicare seminars in May, engaging 150 residents. The Virtual Medicare Seminar, which is now available on-demand online, educates participants on topics including Medicare benefits, supplemental insurance policies, Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug coverage and details on signing up.

As Medicare Open Enrollment approaches, the department reminds residents to assess any contact during the open enrollment period to ensure it is from a known, credible source. The most frequent fraudulent contact occurs by phone, but residents should review communications carefully.

“If you are receiving contact regarding Medicare that you did not initiate, or contact not from one of your healthcare providers, it could be fraudulent,” said Commissioner Navarro. “Protect your Medicare Number like you do your Social Security number or bank account information, and never give it out to unknown or unexpected callers.”

DMAB has been awarded two significant grants during 2020. The 2020 State Health Insurance Assistance Program Base Grant provides $234,293 in federal funds to DMAB. This is a five-year grant, with annually awards in April. It is a primary source of funding for marketing and outreach, counseling, developing and training the volunteer network, and other strategic efforts. The MIPPA 2020 Grant awarded the bureau $43,270, which has and will assist the bureau’s outreach, education, and one-on-one beneficiary assistance programs over the next year for those beneficiaries who are likely to be eligible for the Low-Income Subsidy program (also called “Extra Help”) or Medicare Savings Programs.

The Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau provides free one-on-one health insurance counseling for people eligible for Medicare. Residents can call DMAB at 1-(800) 336-9500 or (302) 674-7364 to set up a free confidential session. Counselors can assist with Medicare, Medicaid, Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance), long term care insurance, billing issues, prescription savings, and much more.

Action Ordered to Protect Highmark Medicare Supplement Consumers

Series of changes come after reports of Highmark premium notice errors

Dozens of complaints have been registered with the Delaware Department of Insurance after Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield processed hundreds of customer birthdates incorrectly, leading to notices of higher July 1 premiums for many Medicare Supplement participants, including those in the company’s Medigap Blue Plan. Department staff have taken action to ensure that these errors are corrected, and impacted consumers will be notified. Additionally, the company has agreed to reduce their July 1 rate increase significantly.

“Medicare Supplement customers should continue to feel secure knowing that the Department of Insurance is working to ensure this problem is corrected quickly,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. “As we worked to resolve this issue with Highmark, the company has also agreed to cut its average premium increase in half due to the reduction in claims activity throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”

Initially pursued prior to the advent of COVID-19, Highmark planned to increase Medicare Supplement premiums an average of 7.2%, the first increase on these plans in several years. The increase was justified for a normal plan year by independent actuaries, but the Department of Insurance and Highmark agree that due to the pandemic, these estimates no longer apply due to low utilization and fewer claims being paid by the company. Highmark has agreed to reduce the premium increase to an average of 3.5%. Consumers can expect to receive additional information in the mail.

The Department of Insurance Market Conduct investigators are monitoring the resolution of this issue, will work with the company to explore the causes of the error as well as any other instances that it may have occurred, and will review measures taken to prevent billing issues in the future.

Medicare Supplement plan premiums are, in part, based on the age of the participant. While the department has not approved a rate increase for Highmark’s plan in several years, participants may have had premium adjustments due to their birthday. These age-based increases are generally very low, are included in the consumer’s policy, and are not reviewed by the department. An error in the birthdate of a consumer can result in an increase, as occurred within the Highmark plan. Plan participants are urged to review the date of birth that is recorded with their insurer.

Contact the Delaware Department of Insurance Consumer Services team to report insurance issues by visiting, emailing, or calling (302) 674-7300.

Clarifications on Medigap

August 13, 2019  – The Delaware Department of Insurance has received inquiries from Medicare eligible citizens concerning  misunderstandings or misinformation they’ve received from some insurance agents and brokers regarding the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).  As this act is rather complex, it has not been determined if consumers have been misinformed, or if they did not fully understand what was relayed to them by agents and brokers.  The lack of complete understanding can have a damaging effect relative to decision making for Medicare beneficiaries or their caretakers.  To help alleviate the situation, Commissioner Trinidad Navarro issued a bulletin to agents and brokers last month, clarifying the requirements of MACRA.  Listed below are some of the highlights of MACRA.

Please read the following highlights to better understand how MACRA will change the availability of certain Medicare Supplement insurance plans, more commonly known as Medigap.

  • “Newly eligible” means individuals who turn age 65 on or after January 1, 2020 or first become eligible for Medicare due to age, disability or end-stage renal disease on or after January 1, 2020.
  • As of January 1, 2020, the sale of Medigap plans C, F and F High Deductible will be discontinued and no longer available for purchase by “newly eligible” Medicare beneficiaries.
  •  “Newly eligible” beneficiaries who turn age 65 on or after January 1, 2020 or first become eligible for Medicare due to age, disability or end-stage renal disease on or after January 1, 2020 can purchase Medigap plans D, G or G High Deductible as a substitute for Medigap plans C, F and F High Deductible.
  • The discontinuation of plans C, F and F High Deductible will not affect you if you are currently age 65 or will be 65 before January 1, 2020.
  • The discontinuation of plans C, F and F High Deductible will not affect you if you first become eligible for Medicare due to age, disability or end-stage renal disease before January 1, 2020.
  • Individuals who were Medicare eligible before January 1, 2020 will still be able to keep their C, F or F High Deductible plans and will be able to repurchase those lettered plans on or after January 1, 2020.
  • Medigap coverage cannot be canceled and is guaranteed renewable as long as the policyholder pays the premium.
  • For more information about upcoming changes to Medigap, please visit or call the Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau (DMAB) at 1-800-336-9500 to speak to one of our Medicare counselors.


The Delaware Department of Insurance protects Delawareans through regulation and education while providing oversight of the insurance industry to best serve the public.

Contact:         Vince Ryan

Sr. Advisor to the Commissioner

Office: 302.674.7303

Mobile: 302.387.7670

DMAB Releases 2015 Medicare Supplement Insurance Guide for Delaware Medicare Recipients

DMAB Releases 2015 Medicare Supplement Insurance Guide for Delaware Medicare Recipients

Dover, DE-The Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau (DMAB) is pleased to announce that the 2015 Delaware Medicare Supplement Insurance Shopper’s Guide is now available in print. This popular guide is updated annually and includes price comparisons and toll-free telephone numbers for all Medigap policies sold in Delaware. Medicare supplement insurance, also called Medigap, is private insurance designed to supplement your Medicare coverage. The guide is also available at any time on the DMAB website,

While reviewing the rates on the Medigap plans in the 2015 guide, keep in mind that your gender and status as a smoker/non-smoker will directly affect your premiums. Please also be aware that listed rates may change during the year. It is recommended that you contact at least two or three companies directly and seek quotes to find the plan that provides you with the best value. It is important to note that the best time to purchase a Medigap policy is during your 6-month Medigap open enrollment.  This period automatically starts the month you’re 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B, and once it’s over, you can’t get it again.  After six months have passed, companies selling these plans are not required to sell you a policy and may underwrite you.

DMAB was formerly known as ELDERinfo and still provides the same helpful services to Delaware’s Medicare recipients. While Medicare is a federal program, DMAB can help Delawareans with Medicare make sense of the complex health insurance system. All DMAB services are completely free. DMAB staff can assist with questions related to Medicare, Medigap, long-term care, and related financial assistance programs. Call DMAB at 1-800-336-9500 to receive a guide or to get help with your Medicare questions. Additional resources related to Medicare are available at


Contact:  Jerry Grant

(302) 674-7303

Commissioner Stewart Warns That Time is Running Out for Disabled Medicare Recipients Under Age 65 to Purchase Medigap Policies

DOVER, DE-Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart recommends that all Medicare recipients under age 65 in Delaware review their Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance) coverage options before the first deadline to purchase a policy occurs on June 30, 2014. With the passage of Senate Bill 42 (SB 42) in 2013 there are new Medigap options available to disabled Medicare recipients under 65 but time to purchase the plans is limited. SB 42 became effective on January 1, 2014, and requires insurance companies that offer Medigap policies to people 65 and older to also offer the same policies to anyone under the age of 65 who qualifies for Medicare due to a disability.

Commissioner Stewart noted, “Existing Medicare beneficiaries under the age of 65 who were receiving Medicare benefits prior to January 1, 2014, only have until June 30, 2014 to purchase a Medigap plan under SB42. Going forward, newly enrolled Medicare recipients under age 65 have six months to purchase one of these plans, from the time benefits begin. It’s very important that these individuals not wait until the last minute to compare plans or sign up, if they are interested. That’s why I encourage anyone with Medicare due to a disability under age 65 to call the Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau at 1-800-336-9500 today to get more information before their time to act expires.”

The Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau, DMAB, website,, also has information about Medigap plans, including the 2014 Delaware Medicare Supplement Insurance Shopper’s Guide, which was released in late May.

As of September 2013, Delaware was home to 167,538 Medicare recipients which includes almost 28,000 individuals who are under the age of 65 and on Medicare due to disability.

What is Medigap (also known as ‘Medicare supplement insurance’)? According to, “A Medicare supplement (Medigap) insurance, sold by private companies, can help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

Some Medigap policies also offer coverage for services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like medical care when you travel outside the U.S. If you have Original Medicare and you buy a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs. Then your Medigap policy pays its share.”

Lakia Turner, Director of the Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau said, “DMAB is a free resource for Medicare recipients who have questions about Medigap plans, prescription drug coverage, Medicare Advantage, financial assistance programs and anything else related to Medicare. Our staff and volunteers are available to help over the phone or in-person at numerous locations throughout the state. We encourage disabled Medicare recipients to call DMAB today to get more information about Medigap policies before time runs out.”

The Delaware Medicare Assistance Bureau (DMAB) is Delaware’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and is funded in part by a grant from the federal Administration for Community Living. DMAB accepts walk-ins only at their office in Dover from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. The DMAB office is located at the Delaware Department of Insurance at 841 Silver Lake Blvd., Dover, DE 19904. Please call 1-800-336-9500 to get help over the phone or to make an appointment with a DMAB volunteer at a counseling site near you. Visit for more info.

Delaware Department of Insurance: “Protecting Delawareans through regulation and education while providing oversight of the insurance industry to best serve the public.”

DMAB Medigap SB 42 Poster