| Wed, Sep 12, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Family Caregivers, National Medicare Education Week is for You, Too

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

National Medicare Education Week caregiver informationJohn Schall, CEO
National Family Caregivers Association

Family caregivers play a critically important role in the lives of their loved ones. This is especially true when a loved one is on Medicare or is eligible for Medicare.

National Medicare Education Week can help make it a bit easier to be a caregiver. The week of September 15-22 will feature community events, an educational web site and more. Sponsors include the National Family Caregivers Association, UnitedHealthcare and others. The goal is to help you improve your understanding of the Medicare program.

Frankly, most of us could use a little help with Medicare. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the National Council on Aging and UnitedHealthcare:

  • Most adults over age 60 find Medicare confusing or don’t understand it at all.
  • Nearly half of those enrolled in Medicare have never shopped around to find coverage that best meets their needs.
  • Another quarter of those enrolled have not shopped in over two years.

So problem number one is that most Medicare beneficiaries don’t fully understand Medicare.

Problem number two is that many family caregivers don’t either.

Many baby boomers are caregivers helping aging relatives make Medicare decisions. Many also lack a solid understanding of the Medicare program, according to the survey. More than half of those aged 60-64 say they have a “poor” understanding of how to help evaluate and choose Medicare coverage that meets a loved one’s needs.

I know how that feels. I have been dealing with broad national Medicare policy issues for 25 years. But my stomach got queasy when my elderly parents asked me for advice about Medicare.

I kept second-guessing myself: Do I know enough details to give my parents good advice? Many family caregivers are in the same boat. How many really have the time to sort through the alphabet soup of Medicare Parts A, B, C and D?

Family caregivers who understand Medicare may find it easier to help their care recipients. That is why I want to bring National Medicare Education Week to your attention as a caregiver.

The National Family Caregivers Association’s mission is to empower family caregivers to act on behalf of themselves and their loved ones, and to remove barriers to health and well-being. Our mission and the goals of National Medicare Education Week align perfectly.

National Medicare Education Week can help family caregivers learn more about Medicare. Visit NMEW.com for more information, and go to TheFamilyCaregiver.org for help with family caregiving.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

NMEW.com: National Medicare Education Week web site <link to NMEW landing page>

TheFamilyCaregiver.org: National Family Caregivers Association web site

Y0066_120906_105619 CMS Accepted