One every eight seconds – that’s how many baby boomers will reach age 65 during the next 10 years. That’s about 10,000 boomers becoming eligible for Medicare each day. They will join 49 million Americans who are currently enrolled in Medicare, many of whom struggle to understand the program, according to a 2011 survey from UnitedHealthcare and the National Council on Aging. In fact, this survey found that most respondents were not able to accurately identify what each part (A, B, C and D) of Medicare covers, and nearly 20 percent of respondents who were currently enrolled in Medicare said they didn’t know what type of coverage they had.
With the Medicare-eligible population set to skyrocket, and given the ongoing debate about the future of the program, the need for clear Medicare information is greater than ever. Fortunately, the opportunity to become educated about Medicare and dispel confusion starts now.
During National Medicare Education Week (Sept. 15 – 22, 2012), baby boomers, Medicare beneficiaries – including 22,456 beneficiaries here in Sebastian County – their families and caregivers have the opportunity to learn more about their health care options.
Arkansas residents can get involved in National Medicare Education Week in a variety of ways. Visit NMEW.com for educational resources and information about free events in Fort Smith. Explore Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for more information about the Medicare program. You can also contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) office for one-on-one counseling.
National Medicare Education Week is not just for those who are enrolled in Medicare. I encourage all Fort Smith residents to think about their friends and loved ones who are enrolled in Medicare, such as parents, grandparents and neighbors, and the role they can play in helping their loved ones with their health care decisions.
Ray Morris is the community outreach manager of Care Improvement Plus in Arkansas. Care Improvement Plus is hosting National Medicare Education Week events with the support of UnitedHealthcare, AARP, Ameriprise Financial and the National Family Caregivers Association.