A new study of 400 pre-Medicare Boomers reveals widespread ignorance regarding the particulars of the Medicare program.

The study, by the Bankers Life and Casualty Company’s Center for a Secure Retirement, found that 56% of respondents admitted to knowing little or almost nothing about the Medicare program, while 13% falsely believe Medicare is free. Indeed, 72% of Boomers did not know that most Americans on Medicare pay a monthly premium, co-pays and deductibles.

Not surprisingly, 62% of Boomers, even those within a few years of turning 65, do not understand what their health insurance benefit will be for doctor visits and hospitalization once they are on Medicare, while 27% could not venture a guess on how much they think they will pay for healthcare once on Medicare versus what they pay today.

Chris Campbell, VP of strategic marketing and business development for Bankers Life and Casualty Company, urged Boomers to take a more proactive approach to understanding the role of Medicare in their retirement planning.

"Minimize financial surprises by understanding your retiree health insurance benefits well in advance," Campbell said in a statement. “Estimate what your financial responsibility is under Medicare, including premiums, co-pays, deductibles and uncovered expenses, in particular, long-term care. Earmark a portion of your savings or income for retirement and consider speaking to a professional advisor who is well versed in Medicare for guidance.”

—Bill Kenealy writes for Insurance Networking News