Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

Bankers Life: Boomers Confused About Medicare

Insurance agents might be able to get baby boomers’ old attention simply by helping them to understand what Medicare likely will and will not cover.

Analysts at the Center for a Secure Retirement, an arm of Bankers Life Insurance Company, Chicago, discuss boomers and retirees’ understanding of Medicare benefits in a summary of results from a survey of 800 U.S. adults that was conducted in September 2011.

An independent research firm called people ages 47 to 75 who had annual household incomes of $25,000 to $75,000. The sample included 400 boomers who were not yet eligible for Medicare and 400 middle-income adults, ages 65 to 75, who are boomers or members of the Silent Generation and are eligible for Medicare.

A majority of people who have Medicare have Medicare supplement insurance plans or Medicare Advantage plans that provide many benefits that the traditional Medicare Part A hospital and Part A physician services programs do not cover.

Some Medicare Advantage plans have been advertising, for example, that they offer hearing aid discount programs.

But most Medicare plans do not provide routine vision or hearing benefits, the analysts note.

More than two-thirds of the retirees interviewed knew that Medicare plans typically cover hospitalization and doctor visits, but 49% did not know if the plans cover routine vision care, and 49% did not know if the plans cover routine hearing care.

The near retirees polled knew much less about Medicare. Only 38% understood that the plans cover doctor visits, and just 37% understood that the plans cover hospital care.

About 22% understood that the plans usually do not cover dental care, but only 18% knew that typical plans do not cover vision care. Just 17% understood that typical plans do not cover hearing care.

“Boomers nearing Medicare eligibility (age 60 to 64) do not show a significantly greater understanding of Medicare than those age 47 to 59,” the analysts say.

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