The first waves of baby boomers are turning 62 this year and are beginning to claim Social Security benefits. And, according to new research from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), many are confused about their post-retirement health insurance options, including their Medicare eligibility.
The NAIC’s national survey of 377 baby boomers — Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — found that only 36% correctly knew that Medicare eligibility begins at age 65; 21% thought Medicare coverage began at age 62; 9% said age 67; 6% said age 59½; and 28% said they were unsure of the age.
The NAIC survey also found:
- A large majority of baby boomers – 84% – said that access to health insurance was important when choosing a retirement date.
- However, only 43% said that Medicare eligibility was an important factor in determining when they would retire.
- Nearly half – 48% – said they expected to use Medicare to cover their healthcare needs during retirement. This number increased to 57% among older baby boomers, those 55-62 years of age.
The NAIC survey also revealed a considerable lack of familiarity with Medicare’s coverage options. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they were “not very familiar” or “not at all familiar” with options such as Medicare Part B, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare prescription drug coverage and Medicare supplement (Medigap) insurance. This number jumped to 72% among younger baby boomers, those 44-54 years of age.
A high level of concern about Medicare’s viability also added to the confusion. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed said they were concerned that future funding for Medicare might not be sufficient to provide the healthcare services they anticipate needing throughout their retirement.
The NAIC offers tips and considerations through its public education program, Insure U – Get Smart About Insurance, at http://www.insureUonline.org.