Boomers Confused on Retiree Health Options

February 26, 2008 ( - Many retiring Baby Boomers are confused about their post-retirement health insurance options, including their Medicare eligibility, according to a new survey.

A news release from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) about its survey of 377 Baby Boomers found that 36% correctly knew that Medicare eligibility begins at age 65. Twenty-one percent thought Medicare coverage began at age 62; 9% said age 67; 6% said age 59½; and 28% said they were not sure.

According to the announcement, the poll also found:

  • A large majority of baby boomers (84%) said access to health insurance was important when choosing a retirement date.
  • 43% said Medicare eligibility was an important factor in determining when they would retire.
  • Nearly half (48%) said they expected to use Medicare to cover their health care needs during retirement. This number increased to 57% among older baby boomers, those 55 – 62 years of age.

The NAIC survey also revealed a lack of familiarity with Medicare’s coverage options. Sixty-six percent of respondents reported 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 jumped to 72% among younger baby boomers, those 44 – 54 years of age.

A high level of concern about Medicare’s viability added to the confusion. Eighty-two percent said they were concerned future funding for Medicare might not be enough to provide the health care services they anticipate needing throughout their retirement.

“Clearly, there is much confusion and concern among baby boomers regarding their future access to Medicare,” said NAIC President and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, in the news release. “Many boomers incorrectly think Medicare coverage is available at age 62, when they initially become eligible for Social Security benefits. With growing concerns about health insurance costs and access, these aging members of our society need to be better educated about Medicare’s timing and entitlements so that they can make informed retirement decisions.”

The NAIC offers tips and considerations through its public education program, Insure U – Get Smart About Insurance, at .