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Extend Health Survey: 3 Out Of 4 Seniors On Medicare Describe Medicare As Difficult To Understand

In a survey of 516 seniors on Medicare, 75% 1 said that the task of understanding Medicare when they turned 65 and became eligible for coverage was “somewhat difficult,” “very difficult,” “impossible without help,” or that they “still don’t understand original Medicare” as well as they would like. 59% of respondents said they performed research or sought advice before signing up. But just 39% of respondents reported they were satisfied with what they knew about Medicare at that time, and 16% said they wished they’d had estimates of what their out-of-pocket expenses were going to be based on the coverage choices they made.

When asked what was the single most important thing to know when making decisions about Medicare coverage, the top choice was whether they could use the doctors and hospitals they prefer to use, selected by 29% of respondents.

The survey asked seniors on Medicare about their personal experiences when signing up for Medicare for the first time – and any advice they might have for others turning 65. The survey was fielded from August 19–20, 2012 by Extend Health, operator of the nation’s largest private Medicare exchange. The company has been surveying seniors on their attitudes about retirement, health care and Medicare since December 2009. Extend Health is a Towers Watson company.

Said Bryce Williams, founder of Extend Health and Managing Director of Exchange Solutions for Towers Watson, “Understanding Medicare and various coverage options can be confusing. In addition to signing up for original Medicare, seniors can purchase private Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans to fill gaps in what original Medicare covers. This adds another layer of complexity to their choices.”

Added Williams, “The takeaway for seniors turning 65 this year – or for seniors already on Medicare making decisions to change or renew their coverage options during the upcoming annual enrollment period – is that it’s important to have the right information to make sure you have the right coverage based on your health needs and desires.”

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