The results of a new survey just released today by the National Council on Aging and UnitedHealthcare reveal that a large percentage of baby boomers and seniors ages 65 and over do not understand Medicare and are unaware of important recent or impending changes to the program. More than half of survey respondents find Medicare confusing or do not understand it at all, and most do not understand the program’s structure. Only a third correctly identified Part A as helping to cover the costs of hospital care. Less than 25 percent knew Part B helps cover the cost of a doctor’s visit, and more than two-thirds did not know what Part C covers. Only 12 percent were aware that Part C helps cover the cost of hospital care, doctor visits and prescription drugs, and even fewer - 7 percent - knew that Part C is synonymous with Medicare Advantage.
Nineteen percent of respondents who reported being enrolled in Medicare said they did not know what type of coverage the have!
Awareness of two important changes to Medicare in 2011 as a result of health reform is also low. The dates of the Annual Enrollment Period have been moved up. Beginning this year it starts a month earlier, on October 15th, and ends December 7th! In addition, the health reform law is gradually closing the coverage gap (donut hole) beginning in 2011 with 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs and 7 percent on generics for those who fall into the coverage gap.
It is very much in your own self interest to read what Medicare and Medicare Advantage folks are sending you in the mail. Be a critical reader. Take control of your own healthcare. Be informed!