Retirement Healthcare for Middle Income Americans on Annuity News Now



welcome to annuity news now the center for a secure retirement has released its latest study the retirement health care for middle-income Americans seeks to understand the role that health care plays in retirement satisfaction my guest is chris campbell he is vice president of strategic marketing for bankers life Chris it's a pleasure thanks for joining us today it's my pleasure Scott thank you so talking about Medicare overall this is a pretty comprehensive study how are the baby boomers getting ready to start approaching Medicare well our study found that they're not doing much to get ready for Medicare we in the course of the study talked to those people that are currently on met on the Medicare program as well as those that the baby boomers that are approaching I'm asking in the same set of questions and we found that boomers to the largest extent were very unfamiliar with even the most basic components of Medicare like how much the basic hospitalization and doctor visits cost as well as other services that are and are not available as part of a Medicare offering it looks like from what I can see in the study that many baby boomers many people in the survey feel that they at least know a little bit better about healthy living yet the population in America from other studies seems to show that everybody is getting overweight how does this information affect things I mean one of the primary pieces of advice that comes from the study is the importance of staying healthy and I think there's a distinction between what boomers and retirees know and say which is the health is very important to having a fulfilling retirement and they'll tell us that you know seventy-seven percent improved their diets and eating habits sixty-five percent are taking steps to reduce stress that doesn't necessarily equate to actual results and I think there's as you cited certainly evidence that there's still more work that they need to do have a healthy retirement well considering what they what they go on from a knowledge base it appears that many Americans are baby boomers getting ready for retirement are planning to sort of learn as you go here how far is the gap from what they expect things to cost to what the reality is how big of a gap is that yeah we we found when we asked them these were individuals that just had gone on Medicare sixty-five percent of them told us that they were paying the same or more for health care on Medicare than they did before they went on the program and I think there has been a general expectation that Medicare is an entitlement program and those middle-income Americans that are now on Medicare reminding us it's just not a free ride mm-hmm because of the economic environment of you know people are figuring or probably focusing there at their attention on getting by do you see them just putting off health care cost and coverage and what Medicare really is you're putting off putting that off because they just can't really deal with it right now well I we do find that when individuals become medicare-eligible you're you're faced with making a decision to enroll in the program and and work under its coverage and costs we have found that they're very surprised they're both pleasantly surprised by the access and quality to care that comes with Medicare but negatively surprised by its overall cost the study found that there are three activities that this reflects roughly eighty seventy eight percent of those on Medicare have been taking to help reduce costs one is to switch to generic prescription drugs I think that's been kind of well-publicized in the press and I think that could be a wise decision from a health and coverage perspective but then there were two other behaviors that the study uncovered that I think we are we and baby boomers should pause on and twenty two percent of those we surveyed are holding off going under the doctor which could mean avoiding necessary preventive care and we also found about fifteen percent are changing to less expensive health care plans so you know we think we can learn from those that are on Medicare now what some steps are that they may take to help lower their costs what do you think people are thinking about possible reforms to health care and you know what's always being talked about on Capitol Hill cuts to Medicare yeah we asked questions about health care reform and the general view is most the individuals we surveyed those between the ages of 47 and 75 felt that the government would likely cut their benefits that's about seven out of ten of them felt that that's created a certain level of anxiety around what the the cost and coverage might be going forward when we asked them specifically about health care reform uh we felt that we heard 51-percent in the study didn't understand how reform would benefit them and thirty-six percent of himself that health care reform wouldn't help them at all we had done a study in May that identified that eighty percent of our target market these are middle-income Americans were concerned about health care in retirement it was their number one concern and what we found is that health care in retirement is really a wild card it's very difficult for individuals to predict what their coverage requirements are going to be what their health care needs are and even more difficult for them to predict what the costs are going to be so if you're looking at the study and there's a lot of information here what what big surprises if any did you find well Scott you you hit on one earlier that Medicare is not an entitlement program it and it's not a free ride there's a cost associated with it and there are restrictions to coverage so I think we need to compare the satisfaction that those on Medicare have with the surprise of the additional costs and the the more we can educate boomers and retirees on the true coverage and cost of Medicare I think the more we'll be able to manage our expectations the limits apprentice the second observation the surprise was just how little baby boomers understood about the overall benefit program you know we found thirty-three percent didn't know what the coverage was for doctor visits thirty-one percent didn't know the hospitalization not half of them didn't know whether dental vision and hearing benefits which many people may get through there exists existing employee health coverage they didn't know whether those would be part of Medicare so there's a lot of ground we need to cover in terms of education becoming familiar with what is and is not covered in Medicare so is that the the overriding message that you're getting here is that as that people just don't know enough is the access to the knowledge easy to get for the average American do you think yeah there are many different avenues to learn about Medicare you know and you know just within the last few weeks I've printed out 158 148 page Medicare guide that you can get on Medicare gov but there are also financial professionals that are very familiar with the mechanics of Medicare and consent in the rust kitchen table from an individual and I really explain how the program works and how it would work in their specific circumstances obviously I think with retirement some of the other studies are showing that people are living longer they probably for the most part most baby boomers haven't saved nearly enough or as tough as they should have to manage a retirement this sounds like it could be incredibly problematic for those who are you know seeking Medicare coverage yes there's the other side of the coin was living longer and that's whether you're living healthier or not yeah and that can be problematic one of the most important things that someone can do in addition to understanding how Medicare works is to stay healthy a healthier lifestyle will make retirement more satisfying and there are a number of steps that individuals are already taking to improve their health around diet around exercise run mental exercises and then there are things that are part of the Medicare program like free available preventive care that can also help people stay healthier so yeah I think you're exactly right Scott that it's not all about living longer it sits more importantly about living healthier mm-hmm finally here as we get into a close talk about the the amount of of the of people for example who typically supplement their coverage that's more than half I'm guessing or that I can see from the study here yes we asked them how many how many of them are because of the cost and coverage limitations with Medicare how many of them are seeking out additional coverage options for Medicare and there are programs like Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage that can help and we found you know close to seventy eighty percent of individuals are choosing to purchase policies like those in order to either smooth out some of the coverage elements or to help better manage the fluctuations in cost that some people may experience we are on Medicare so I guess overall what the message would be is to get yourself educated and and plan for the cost I guess yeah I think there's a an element around getting informed there's a required you know I think of an encouragement that individuals should stay healthy and get healthy and then get care there are a number of preventive care options that folks aren't using today I do you know I'm troubled when I hear statistics that show that some people are avoiding either taking prescription drugs and voiding getting going to the doctor those are important elements of staying healthy and in retirement my guest is chris campbell he is vice president of strategic marketing for bankers if Chris it's been a great pleasure thanks for sharing your knowledge with us all right thank you Scott and you're watching annuity news now

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