Survey Reveals Future of Medicare is No. 1 Worry for Seniors
A national survey of seniors finds that the future of Medicare is their No. 1 concern. At the same time, nearly three out of four (71 percent) would
pay more to keep their coverage, according to the 2012 Allsup Medicare Advisor® Seniors Survey. The national study of 1,000
seniors enrolled in Medicare plans was commissioned by Allsup and conducted by Richard Day Research, a Market Probe Company based in Evanston, Ill.
Although a combined 89 percent of seniors said they were extremely or somewhat satisfied with their Medicare plans, a majority (61 percent) are concerned about the future of the federal insurance program. Rounding out the top-five concerns were having enough money to enjoy retirement (52 percent), paying for long-term care (43 percent), paying for healthcare (41 percent) and outliving their money (38 percent).
“It’s not surprising that seniors are anxious. They invested in Medicare while they were working, they are seeing it change with the Affordable Care Act, and they are listening to the political debate over its future,” said Mary Dale Walters, senior vice president of the Allsup Medicare Advisor, a Medicare plan selection service. “It’s important, however, that they don’t get distracted from what they need now. Seniors could be missing the opportunity to improve their current coverage, ensuring their Medicare plan is aligned with their needs and what they can afford.”
Annual Medicare open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. This is the critical season for Medicare-eligible people to make healthcare decisions that affect their financial situations. Changes take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Seniors Changing Medicare Plans and Healthcare Behaviors
With three out of the top-five concerns touching on healthcare, seniors are changing their behavior when it comes to healthcare purchasing decisions. Findings include:
- Seniors alter treatments to save money on healthcare. For example, 79 percent have switched togeneric medications and 60 percent have used preventative screenings.
- Seniors cut back on other expenses to cover unexpected healthcare costs. Overall, 59 percent reportcutting costs—including eating out/entertainment, giving gifts, spending on others and travel—in order to pay for unexpected medical costs.
- Some are surprised by unexpected, uncovered Medicare expenses. This includes 24 percent who said they discovered that a drug or treatment was not covered, and 17 percent had an uncovered doctor or specialist visit.
- Seniors are concerned about future out-of-pocket costs. Sixty-one percent are concerned about future out-of-pocket costs, while 53 percent are concerned about medical premiums. Fifty-three percent are concerned about prescription drug premium costs.
Reviewing Medicare Plans and Healthcare Expenses
Despite concerns about healthcare costs, only 52 percent have reviewed their healthcare needs in the last 12 months or plan to in the next 12 months. Only 15 percent report changing or planning to change their Medicare plans over the same period.
Seniors’ ongoing concerns and behaviors run counter to another result from the survey: 62 percent said they are confident in their healthcare savings.
“Seniors may want to be assured they’ve saved enough. But they have very significant concerns about costs, and many have been surprised by, or had to trim other living expenses to cover, unexpected expenses,” Walters said. “Their confidence may be tempered, but they have options for better managing their healthcare coverage and expenses.”
Medicare annual open enrollment provides a critical opportunity for seniors to evaluate their needs and current Medicare plans for the coming year.
“Whether using a service like the Allsup Medicare Advisor or speaking with a financial advisor or retirement planner, seniors should not let Medicare annual open enrollment go by without a closer look,” Walters said. “There may be Medicare plans that better match your needs for 2013 as well as your financial situation.”
Seniors Advise Baby Boomers: Save for Out-of-Pocket Costs and Review Medicare Plans Annually
The Allsup survey also asked seniors what advice they would give baby boomers about managing their healthcare costs. Based on their own experience with Medicare, seniors recommend that baby boomers take proactive steps that they themselves did not appear to take when planning for retirement. For example, 44 percent of seniors recommended that baby boomers save specifically for Medicare out-of-pocket expenses; 41 percent recommended getting professional help for Medicare decisions.
Forty percent of seniors cautioned baby boomers to plan to pay more than they expect for healthcare costs, and 39 percent advised them to review Medicare plans annually.
“Seniors have a number of options for help when reviewing their Medicare decisions each year,” Walters said. “Services like the Allsup Medicare Advisor provide objective help that compare someone’s needs with what’s available to them. It’s a customized, one-on-one review with a Medicare specialist that is personalized to the individual’s specific needs and budget.”
According to Walters, among those who can benefit most from reviewing their Medicare plans are seniors who have:
- Experienced a health issue in the past year
- Seen their financial situation change
- Moved to a new area
- Experienced a life change, such as divorce or death of a spouse
- Existing plans that are changing coverage, co-pays and deductibles
“It’s also important that older adults who haven’t reviewed their coverage take another look,” Walters said.
Expert help is available and can provide cost savings and benefits no matter someone’s age or medical circumstances. Contact a Medicare specialist with questions or for an evaluation of your Medicare options, by calling Allsup Medicare Advisor at (866) 521-7655.
Find results from the 2012 Allsup Medicare Advisor® Seniors Survey on Allsup.com at http://www.allsup.com/portals/4/AMA-Seniors-Survey-Oct2012.pdf