Durham-based North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company sponsored a tour to educate aging Baby Boomers about their health care options.
Medicare will be baby boomers’ primary source for health care. Though the open enrollment period closed on Dec. 7, 2013, those turning 65 in days or months before the next open enrollment period in 2014 will need to know their options for health insurance coverage.
According to Dr. Kimberly Williams Moore, director of marketing and external communications for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, it is never too early for those approaching their senior years to start planning for future health care needs. She states that the biggest misconception about Medicare is that it is totally free at age 65.
“Right now, the Baby Boomers are controlling the conversation about health care because there are so many of them. So the main point we want to stress is don’t wait until your 65th birthday to start thinking about your health care choices,” said Williams Moore. “The myth that once a person turns 65, their health care will be taken care of is widely believed, as we learned through our Health Care Panel – Seven Starter Facts Seniors Need to Know tour. People think that once they are a beneficiary of Medicare, they have to pay nothing. There is going to be something beneficiaries will pay.”
The health care information tour included Charlotte, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, where North Carolina Mutual moderated a panel of experts that included Andre Walton, vice president of direct to consumer channel health care exchanges for Aon Hewitt; a representative from the state’s Seniors Health Insurance Information Programs (SHIIP); and a physician/physician administrator respectively.
Aon Hewitt has partnered with North Carolina Mutual to provide the African American seniors with free support and access to a national network of quality Medicare insurance products through Aon Hewitt Navigators.
During the tour, panelists issued balanced information and answered questions about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. Seniors were equipped with the seven facts they need to know to begin choosing their Medicare coverage and to dispel health care coverage myths pertaining to the Affordable Health Care Act. For Dr. Williams Moore, the discussions demonstrated that having clear-cut information is invaluable, but just having the dialogue about heath care is imperative.
“In speaking with these seniors during our health care panel tour, we were extremely excited to get the dialogue started about health overall. Though there is controversy surrounding the Affordable Health Care Act, the one positive result is that it caused African Americans to begin a plan to get healthy, make doctor visits, and think about how they can ensure they spend their senior years in a healthy state. These are the things that most people forget. We have to remember health care disparities for African Americans in comparison to our majority counterparts are still very much an issue.”
The biggest takeaway for Dr. Williams Moore is for Boomers to ask the questions.
“I would say, if you are employed, as soon as you start looking at retirement, you need to start thinking about ‘How am I going to pay for health care’ If you have never had a job, you definitely need to be teasing out a lot of different options for health care.”
North Carolina Mutual (www.ncmutuallife.com) has been a leader in serving the life and health insurance needs of the African American community since its founding in 1898 and currently has more than 200,000 policyholders nationwide. Its health care partner, Aon Hewitt Navigators (www.aonhewittnavigators.com), offers access to more than 80 health insurance carriers and 3,300 different plans, plus personalized support to ensure participants choose the right plan to meet their individual needs.