Generation By Generation: Medicare Needs And Health Insurance Decisions

Each generation expects different things from their health insurance coverage and makes health care decisions differently, so individuals and caregivers need to give real consideration to their loved ones demographics. While older baby boomers rely on their doctors and agencies like the Office for Aging for health care information, younger patients seek health information from multiple sources, including the Internet and their social networks.

Regardless of age, however, more baby boomers are shopping around for health care and insurance information the way they do for other consumer services, to determine how and where they will spend their health care dollars. And technology plays a bigger role than ever before. Here are some tips about how baby boomers of different generations are making their decisions.

The “Greatest Generation”

People age 65 and older, also referred to as the “silver surfers,” make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population. They also account for 35 percent of hospital stays and 38 percent of all emergency room medical care, according to research by health care marketing firm Smith & Smith Jones. They require more and longer patient visits and expect a very high level of service from their doctors. This generation follows their doctors’ recommendations and relies heavily on them for health information and referrals. Don’t assume that seniors aren’t tech-savvy like their younger counterparts, however -Pew research found that as of April 2012, more than half of people age 65+ use the Internet as part of their daily lives.

Keep in mind that their children — the Baby Boomers — may be making health care decisions for this age group.

Baby Boomers

This generation (born between 1946-1964) is a growing population that is changing the expectations of the health care industry. While this age group didn’t grow up with the Internet, they have embraced technology and are actively seeking more tech-savvy ways to connect with their doctors and select health insurance coverage. Baby Boomers are very likely to seek health information online. A Google/Nielsen Boomer Survey from August 2012 reported that 78 percent of this age group has searched health information online after seeing something on TV. Their searches focus on coverage, costs, treatments, medications, side effects, and risks. Boomers value quality care, and consider reviews and ratings when choosing health care and health insurance providers. In addition to making decisions about their own health care needs, Boomers are also likely to act as caregivers for their parents in the Greatest Generation and as advocates or advisers for their Gen-X and Gen-Y children.

So what does this mean for individuals who are looking for help either for themselves or as a caregiver for their loved one when needing health insurance information and enrollment assistance? The Office for the Aging works with all ages of clients who are eligible for Medicare to provide unbiased health insurance plan information, answer questions, offer education on navigation and much more. So no matter what level of assistance you need, we are here to assist you!

Contact our Office for the Aging NY Connects helpline for more information at 753-4582.