There is a lot of speculation and discussion about what affect health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will have on seniors and more specifically, Medicare.
Fact # 1 ACA will not cut your basic Medicare benefits.
There are actually some improvements to Medicare benefits as a result of ACA. One immediate improvement, according to the Law, is more help with prescription drug coverage. In Medicare prescription drug coverage there is something commonly referred to as “the donut hole” which refers to a coverage gap where seniors end up paying 100% of prescription drug costs. The new law helps you pay these costs right away. If you enter the donut hole this year, Medicare will send you a check for $250. You don’t have to do anything to get the check. It will arrive around 45 days after you reach the gap. In 2011, if you enter the donut hole, you’ll pay only half of what your plan charges for brand-name drugs—a 50% discount. By 2020, the donut hole will be slowly phased out and completely eliminated because of the Affordable Care Act.
Also as a result of ACA, a free annual well visit is now available in 2011. The free annual wellness checkup will allow you and your doctor to develop a prevention plan to keep you healthy. And a range of prevention services, such as cancer and diabetes screenings, will be provided free, no more cost sharing.
Another improvement related to the ACA, better care when you get sick! 80% of older Americans, have at least one chronic medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. If you are one of them, you probably see several doctors, who may not always work together. The law will invest in testing new models of care for people with chronic conditions in order to provide better care, better coordination, and more patient-centered services. If you must be hospitalized, the law also will help you return home successfully, and avoid going re-hospitalization, by providing incentives for hospitals to make sure that you get the services you need in your community and by teaching you ways to take good care of yourself.
There are more facts that seniors need to know about how the new healthcare legislation will impact you and your Medicare coverage, stay tuned for more information from NJFA.
The information in this blog was gathered from language in the Affordable Care Act, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid and the National Council on Aging.
For more information check out the following links:
A brochure from Medicare:
Webpage from the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD):
Answers from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a):
Straight Talk for Seniors from the National Council on Aging: