The second annual National Medicare Education Week begins Sunday, Sept. 15, exactly one month before the start of Medicare's annual Open Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7). The week is a UnitedHealthcare initiative to help baby boomers, Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers learn more about Medicare.
The Medicare Made Clear Index, a recently conducted survey of 1,000 older adults, found that 1 in 5 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older described Medicare as confusing, and most could not correctly identify the health care expenses that Medicare Parts A, B, C and D cover. For example, only 35 percent of respondents knew that Medicare Part B provides coverage for doctor's visits, and just 5 percent knew that Medicare Part C, which is also known as Medicare Advantage, covers hospital care, doctor visits and prescription drug costs.
Baby boomers in their early 60s who are approaching Medicare eligibility also struggle to understand the program, with 70 percent describing their understanding of Medicare as "fair" or "poor." More than half say they wouldn't "know where to begin" when it comes to preparing for the transition from employer-sponsored insurance to Medicare.
"Dispelling Medicare confusion is important because health care decisions can have a significant impact on the well-being – and wallets – of seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries," said Jack Larsen, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, the largest business dedicated to the health and well-being needs of seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries. "Medicare is not a one-size-fits-all program, and making coverage choices requires thoughtful planning."
National Medicare Education Week is also supported by AARP, Ameriprise Financial, the Caregiver Action Network, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), Target, Walgreens, Walmart and Sam's Club.
Medicare Education Opportunities in Local Communities and Online
During National Medicare Education Week, UnitedHealthcare will host dozens of Medicare education events in more than 15 cities. At the events, local UnitedHealthcare representatives will present information to help answer some of the most common Medicare questions. Among the topics that will be covered are:
- The different types of Medicare coverage, and how people can determine what coverage is right for them;
- How and when to enroll in Medicare, including tips for people who choose to delay enrollment past age 65;
- Recent changes to Medicare; and
- Online and community resources to help people learn more about Medicare.
The information presented at these community meetings will also be available online at NMEW.com, and in Spanish at SolucionesdeMedicare.com, so that people nationwide can virtually participate in the events.
Visitors to NMEW.com will find links to MedicareMadeClear.com where they can learn more about Medicare. The site contains a variety of information, tips and tools to suit multiple learning preferences, such as plan-comparison worksheets, a decision road map to help navigate the enrollment process and a glossary of Medicare terminology. Those who learn best with interactive tools can view videos on the site covering topics ranging from Medicare basics to saving money on Medicare coverage. The videos use basic language and engaging graphics and illustrations to explain some of the details about Medicare that people often find confusing.
For more information about National Medicare Education Week and the educational events, visit NMEW.com.
About the Medicare Made Clear Index
The Medicare Made Clear Index was conducted by UnitedHealthcare. From June 5, 2013, to July 5, 2013, Penn Schoen Berland completed 1,000 telephone interviews, including nationally representative samples of Americans ages 60 and older. The margin of error for people ages 60-64 is +/-5.4 percent, and the margin of error for people ages 65 and older is +/-3.9 percent.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and other health care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.