Mary Beth Franklin

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Mary Beth Franklin: Advisers and clients don't talk Medicare

Survey finds that the discussion never comes up; yawning opportunity?

Oct 3, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

By Mary Beth Franklin

Medicare, Mary Beth Franklin
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Despite the serious concerns that many retirees have over rising health care costs, fewer than one-third of those who work with a financial adviser have ever discussed their Medicare plans, according to a new nationwide survey released Thursday.

Of those clients who did discuss Medicare with their adviser, the vast majority — 79% — said their adviser was knowledgeable or extremely knowledgeable about the federal health insurance program for retirees. The nationwide survey of 1,000 seniors was commissioned by Allsup, a provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers.

The survey also found that although 71% of seniors with financial advisers said they will review their income and expenses in the next 12 months, only 58% plan to review their healthcare needs in the next 12 months.

“Financial and retirement planning professionals have a tremendous opportunity to assist their senior clients with Medicare plans and healthcare choices by helping them realize and prepare for the cost-related results of their decisions,” said Mary Dale Walters, senior vice president of the Allsup Medicare Advisor, a Medicare plan selection service for Medicare-eligible individuals.

The survey also found that only 15% of all seniors have changed any of their Medicare coverage in the past year. That finding echoes the experience of Allsup Medicare specialists in their discussions with seniors who rely on Allsup Medicare Advisor for research and guidance. Medicare's annual enrollment season, when all seniors can change plans for 2013, runs from October 15 through December 7, 2012.

“Many seniors, to their detriment, tend to avoid re-assessing their healthcare needs and, therefore, their healthcare insurance coverage, even though their health or financial situation may have changed,” Walters said. “Healthcare choices affect finances, and it's clear that their financial advisers can have an important role in helping seniors to better understand this impact.”

Allsup works with financial advisers to support their clients with Medicare plan decisions, including first-time enrollment issues, as well as reviews during Medicare annual open enrollment. For information about Medicare annual open enrollment or the Allsup Medicare Advisor, financial professionals can call (888) 220-9678 or visit

The future of Medicare was the top concern of the majority of the 1,000 seniors who responded to the survey, followed by having enough money in retirement (53%); paying for long-term care (44%); paying for healthcare (41%); and outliving their money (40%). The survey also found that seniors who work with a financial adviser are more likely to save specifically for healthcare expenses than seniors without advisers and are more they confident in the adequacy of their healthcare savings.

(Because of their longer life expectancy, women tend to be more concerned about health care and long-term care costs than men. Join Investment News for our third and final webinar on Women and Investing as we discuss these issues with our panel of experts on Tuesday October 30 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET


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