Baby Boomers Challenged by Medicare Info

According to a Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement survey an alarming high percentage of American baby boomers are uninformed about Medicare.   The results are surprising since boomers say health care expenses and illness are their top financial concerns in retirement.

While the Banker Life survey found 56 % of baby boomers admit to knowing little or almost nothing about the Medicare program, one in seven erroneously believe the program is free.   Nearly 75 % of boomers did not know Medicare requires monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles.  Furthermore, 62 % of baby boomers do not know what Medicare covers for  doctor and hospital visits and 80 % under age 65 did not know whether it covers long term care.

A similar survey by the National Council on Aging, Washington, and UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn. (NYSE:UNH), (500 U.S. baby boomers ages 60 to 64 AND 1,000 U.S. residents ages 65 and older were surveyed.)  found that only 36 % of the survey participants over age 64 – and just 23 % of the participants ages 60 to 64 – understand Medicare well enough to know that Medicare Part A is the Medicare program component that covers the cost of hospital care.

About 50% of the seniors, and just 37% of the boomers, said they were familiar with the Medicare Part D prescription drug program doughnut hole – the gap between where routine drug benefits end and catastrophic coverage begins.

Fifty seven percent of  boomers surveyed stated they were uncertain of  the future of Medicare, and 24% said they expect to see major changes in the program.

It appears that baby boomers don’t understand Medicare, think Medicare is in for major changes and may be reluctant to pay enough attention to it until they absolutely need to know about it when they are nearing their own retirement.  Personally,  I only became concerned when my parents reached 65 years of age almost 20 years ago, and still didn’t understand enough about it until I was certified by UnitedHealth Group to offer Medicare Supplemental Plans in 2008.  What do you think about the program and its future?

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