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Medicare Misconceptions Could Land Middle-Income Retirees in Financial Hardship, New Study Says

CHICAGO, Feb. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- An alarming number of our country's middle-income retirees on Medicare lack understanding or have misconceptions about the program's coverage and costs resulting in unexpected financial surprises, according to the latest findings released by the Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement(SM) (CSR).

The study, Retirement Healthcare for Middle-Income Americans, which focused on 400 pre-Medicare Boomers (age 47 to 64) and 400 older adults (age 65 to 75) with an annual household income of between $25,000 and $75,000, found that one in three Medicare enrollees still did not know how much the program covers for doctor's visits (33 percent) or hospitalization (31 percent), which are the basic components of the program's health benefits.

The CSR study also found nearly half (49 percent) do not understand their benefits for vision care and hearing care, both which are services typically not covered by Medicare. 

Long-term care was found to be the least understood and the greatest perceived threat to financial security for middle-income Americans.  Two out of three (66 percent) Medicare recipients did not know if the program covers long-term care or overestimate its long-term care coverage. 

Medicare has long been labeled as an entitlement program but middle-income Americans say it is not the free ride many assume it is.   Two-thirds (65 percent) of those on Medicare report paying the same or more for healthcare now that they are on Medicare, resulting in unexpected financial surprises.

The most common financial surprises for Medicare enrollees is the cost of monthly Part B premiums with nearly half (44 percent) who report paying more than they had expected.  

The unexpected financial surprises coupled with the uneasy economy have forced 78 percent of middle-income Americans on Medicare to take at least one action to reduce their healthcare expenses, including switching to generic prescriptions (69 percent), holding off going to the doctor (22 percent), changing to a less expensive health plan (15 percent) or splitting pills to make their prescriptions last longer (12 percent).   

"Financial fallout from healthcare related expenses can devastate savings and strip away the enjoyment of one's retirement years," said Chris Campbell, vice president of strategic marketing and business development for Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a national life and health insurer.  "Review your Medicare plan options annually and look into new health and prescription drug plans that better meet your needs.  Also, consider purchasing additional healthcare insurance to address services not covered by Medicare and out-of-pocket expenses."

According to the CSR study, three out of four (77 percent) have purchased an insurance product or a Medicare Supplement insurance plan to help pay out of pocket expenses typically not covered by the Medicare program. 

The Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement's study Retirement Healthcare for Middle-Income Americans was conducted in September 2011 by the independent research firm The Blackstone Group.  The complete report can be viewed at

About the Center for a Secure Retirement
The Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement is the Company's research and consumer education program.  Its studies and consumer awareness campaigns provide insight and practical advice for how everyday Americans can achieve financial security during retirement.

Established in 1879 in Chicago, Bankers Life and Casualty Company focuses on the insurance needs of the retirement market.  The nationwide company, a subsidiary of CNO Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: CNO), offers a broad portfolio of life and health insurance retirement products designed especially for Boomers and retirees.


SOURCE Bankers Life and Casualty Company