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3 actions to help your retirees choose the right Medicare plan

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By Karen Frost and Colleen Pappas, Alight Solutions

Whether it’s the rising cost of healthcare or the prospect of being forced into early retirement, near-retirees are concerned about their long-term health coverage. Older American workers are feeling more unsettled than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic marks the second major financial setback they’ve endured in little more than a decade.

Compounding the problem is the complexity of Medicare, which can easily befuddle retired Americans with numerous coverage options, enrollment rules and deadlines, and consequently saddle them with hefty penalties and months-long coverage gaps.

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer employers are providing retiree health benefits, as the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates only 29% are doing so. In many cases, employees need support transitioning from their employer health plans to Medicare plus supplemental coverage, and employers play a critical role in that process as a trusted source of information for their people.

Here are three actions your company can take to make sure your near-retirees are set up for a healthy future.

Create a user-friendly enrollment experience for near-retirees
Your people are used to a high-quality enrollment experience that provides access to plan information, decision support (including provider network and formulary) and plan costs in their preferred channel (web, mobile, phone). This approach makes it easy for employees to find the right coverage and enroll with confidence. Research from Alight shows that workers 60+ find plan comparison tools (71%) and plan guidance tools (62%) valuable as they make healthcare decisions. Because they’re accustomed to these integrated, consumer-oriented experiences from their employers, their enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan should be no different.
Keep your people educated and informed about Medicare plus supplemental coverage​
The transition to Medicare plus supplemental coverage can be very confusing. The average Medicare beneficiary in 2020 has access to 28 Medicare Advantage plans — significantly more choices than employer plans offer. Unlike employer plans, these can be marketed directly to individuals, meaning your people are receiving materials from numerous plans via mail and email, or even seeing ads on TV. Anyone who has tried to enroll or assisted a loved one in enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan knows how challenging it can be to find the right information and know which advisors they can trust to help. On top of finding the proper coverage, your people want to stay educated and informed about their coverage and broader wellbeing. Finding a partner committed to helping your people, both while they are employed and while they enjoy retirement, gives them the trusted voice they need to feel confident in their coverage decisions.
Support employees throughout their complete healthcare journey
Enrollment and plan education are only the first part of the healthcare journey. Retirees (like all your people) need help navigating the complexities of finding the right doctor, understanding which procedures or prescriptions are covered and deciding where to get the care they need. Alight’s research shows that 55% of workers over 60 find personalized support to navigate the health system and manage healthcare costs to be valuable in helping them make healthcare decisions. Offer your people the personalized resources they need after enrollment to ensure they are set up for a healthy future.
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