Are You Sure About That?

This will be short and sweet – but it still counts!

Everybody talks about Medicare.  We think we know the basics: it’s insurance for our old parents, right?  We can spell it.  We can use it in a sentence.  We blame it for all sorts of things.  But can we actually describe how it works?  Really?

A recent study undertaken by Bankers Life and Casualty‘s Center for a Secure Retirement revealed some surprising gaps in our grasp of the Medicare concept. The research involved 800 middle-income Americans.  Half of the group was Medicare age or older, while the other half were classified as pre-Medicare baby boomers (age 47 to 64).  And nearly half of the whole group believed themselves to be comfortable with the in’s and out’s of the program.

They were kidding themselves, it turns out.  There are big misunderstandings all over the place:

  • Two-thirds of the seniors in the study were completely unaware of how much Medicare offers for long-term care services.
  • One-third were unaware of the level of coverage that Medicare offers for hospitalization and doctor visits.  The levels are 31% and 33%, respectively.
  • A full 26% admitted they knew practically nothing about Medicare and its offerings; 56% confessed that their knowledge was really minimal.
  • Way too many – 13% – think Medicare is free.
  • Over 25% had given no thought to what their health care costs would likely be once they are eligible for the program.

Once again: the more we know, the more we understand, the better.  There are all sorts of good resources out there, for those of us already on the plan as well as for younger caregivers and potential enrollees.  Apparently, we just don’t use them.

We’ve got to get a working knowledge of what Medicare does, and does not, offer.  Don’t let sparring politicians be your teachers!  The misinformation they spin is great for their sound bytes and election campaigns, but not so great for anything else.  There are lots of benefits, especially wellness visits, not being used because potential beneficiaries don’t understand the parameters of their plans.  And there are any number of impending expenses to consider as we plan life beyond our working years.  Apparently a majority of us boomers have saved less than $25,000 towards retirement.  That won’t go very far, with or without Medicare.

So check the deal out.  Don’t wait ’til you or your parents are nearly 65.  Figure out how it works, how it’s paid for, the whole thing.  The Medicare/Medicaid website is a great start:


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