When it Comes to Medicare, You May Know Less Than You Think

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How well do you know you elderly loved one's Medicare program?

Recent study results indicate that you may not be as savvy as you think when it comes to the ins and outs of the government-funded senior benefits program. The senior you care for may also be unaware of certain elements of their coverage.

The study, conducted by The Bankers Life and Casualty Company's Center for a Secure Retirement, involved 800 middle-income Americans, half of whom were of Medicare age or older, and half of whom were classified as pre-Medicare baby boomers (age 47 to 64).

Though 42% of respondents felt that they were pretty familiar with Medicare's nuances, researchers uncovered these startling statistics regarding general their true understanding of the program:

  • One-third of seniors are unaware of the level of coverage Medicare offers for hospitalization and doctor visits (31 and 33% respectively)
  • Two-thirds of seniors are unaware of how much Medicare offers for long-term care services
  • 26% of boomers said they knew practically nothing about Medicare's offerings and over half (56%) said that their knowledge of the program was minimal.
  • A decent portion of boomers (13%) think that Medicare is free, and over a quarter haven't given thought to what their health care costs might be once they become eligible for the plan.

Lack of knowledge about Medicare's offerings can lead to serious problems for Boomers and seniors alike.

Boomers who don't know how much their future care might cost are unlikely to plan appropriately for impending expenses. Previous research, directed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, has shown that the majority of boomers (56%) have saved less than $25,000 for their retirement.

Seniors who don't know the parameters of their plan are probably not taking full advantage of the benefits Medicare offers. The Secure Retirement study found that only 42% of seniors go to the free annual wellness visit offered by Medicare.

There's no need for anyone to be remain in the dark about Medicare.

For those who want to brush up on their knowledge of Medicare's various coverage plans, the website for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ( www.cms.gov ) has a number of helpful resources for caregivers and seniors alike.

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