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Medicare causes fear, confusion for baby boomers

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A recent National Association of Insurance Commissioners survey showed that baby boomers are confused about their Medicare eligibility.

For example, 28 percent said they didn’t know at what age they would become eligible for Medicare, and another 36 percent gave incorrect answers. Coverage options were also unclear to respondents, with 66 percent reporting that they were “not very familiar” or “not at all familiar” with options such as Medicare Parts B and D, Medicare Advantage and Medigap insurance.

“Many boomers incorrectly think Medicare coverage is available at age 62, when they initially become eligible for Social Security benefits,” said NAIC president Sandy Praeger.

Adding to a general lack of knowledge regarding Medicare is the current debate about the program’s pending insolvency, which was recently moved up 5 years.

If the growth in health care costs is not curbed, said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a recent statement, “our commitments will become unsustainable.” Regardless of which plan wins out, changes are coming to the program and seniors have reason to be concerned. “A significant change in public policy like Social Security and Medicare benefits could be disastrous for many retirees,” according to vice president of LIMRA Retirement Research Marie Rice.