By Marc Briggs
Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
With key provisions of the Affordable Care Act set to go into effect
on Jan. 1, the news is full of more health care and insurance jargon
than ever: Health insurance marketplaces. Premium subsidies. Essential
health benefits. All of this buzz can make it difficult for the more
than 270,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the Las Vegas area to cut
through the clutter and find the information they need about their
Medicare options for 2014.
That may help explain why the Medicare Made Clear Index, a survey of
1,000 older adults conducted earlier this year, found that most
beneficiaries’ understanding of Medicare is limited. Baby boomers in
their early 60s, who are approaching Medicare eligibility and may be a
caregiver for a parent or loved one who receives Medicare benefits,
reported the lowest confidence levels in their Medicare knowledge of
all survey participants, with most saying they have a “fair” or “poor”
understanding of the program.
This is concerning because Medicare is not a one-size-fits-all
program, and coverage decisions can have a significant impact on
beneficiaries’ health — and wallets. Whether you’re a baby boomer
preparing to enroll in Medicare for the first time, a beneficiary
considering making a change to your coverage, or a caregiver for
someone who receives Medicare benefits, you should know that these
decisions require thoughtful planning. The good news: They don’t have
to be a struggle.
The goal of National Medicare Education Week (Sept. 15-22) was to help
people learn more about Medicare so they can find coverage that’s a
good fit for their individual needs. It starts one month before
Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7) when
beneficiaries can make changes to their coverage. By taking time to
learn about Medicare now, people may feel better prepared to make
confident coverage decisions during open enrollment.
Las Vegas-area residents can visit NMEW.com to find information about
educational events taking place in the area and in cities across the
country. If you’re not able to attend an event, you can participate
virtually and also find a variety of free resources to help you learn
more about Medicare at NMEW.com.
Marc Briggs is the Regional Vice President of UnitedHealthcare
Medicare & Retirement in Las Vegas. National Medicare Education Week
is a UnitedHealthcare initiative that is supported by AARP, Ameriprise
Financial, the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), the National
Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), Target, Walgreens,
Walmart and Sam’s Club. Local supporters include Kroger (Smith’s).
By Marc Briggs