Like many Americans, you probably have a lot of questions about the Affordable Care Act— the first major overhaul of the American healthcare system in decades. While the legislation may be difficult to decipher and we’ve not yet seen how the long-term impact of the law will play out, the early indications are good for American seniors.
If you receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits (or both!), there are some significant, positive changes that can help make planning for future care a little bit easier.
Outwardly the Affordable Care Act does not affect your benefits as far as in that you don’t have to worry about replacing them because of the new legislation. You do, however, have the potential to gain more benefits within the coverage Medicare and Medicaid already provide.
Understand important Medicare changes and how they can benefit you.
First and foremost, your Medicare coverage is protected.
Regardless of your particular plan—Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan— you will be able to keep the benefits you already have. That means if Medicare is your sole source of healthcare coverage, you don’t have to do anything within the newly established Marketplace.
In fact, under the Affordable Care Act, you actually get more preventive services, for less.
- Regularly recommended screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies are now covered, neither of which will have any charge for your Part B coinsurance deductible.
- Free yearly “Wellness” visits are now covered under Medicare, as well, adding another layer of security and a regular checkpoint for your health.
- Additionally, some Medicare recipients will qualify for a 50% discount when buying brand-name prescription drugs under Part-D coverage.
- Plus, your doctor will get more support and additional resources to ensure that your treatments are consistent and prevent repeat hospital visits.
Under the Affordable Care Act, your Medicare benefits are ensured for years to come. With reductions in waste, fraud, and actual Medicare costs, the Medicare Trust Fund will be protected until at least 2029.
But with so many changes, it’s normal to have concerns about how your healthcare coverage will be affected. And it’s true that while many aspects of Medicare are expanding to ensure you stay healthy by allowing for more extensive preventive care, there are some changes that could negatively affect your coverage.
If you have Medicare Part C coverage from a private insurance company, your coverage may have changed.
The ACA offers all insurers a bonus if they improve existing Part C plans, but the new law also means that Medicare itself will be paying less into some Medicare Advantage Plans. You may find that these cuts will translate into increased copayments or co-insurance costs.
Be aware that Medicaid is changing too.
If you have supplemental coverage under Medicaid, your coverage here will also be protected and strengthened under the Affordable Care Act. Under the new law, Medicare and Medicaid will work more closely together to cover you in stronger, more efficient ways.
One of the most important changes has to do with eligibility.
If before you were ineligible to receive Medicaid, or did not know if you were eligible, there have been changes made that fill in coverage gaps by creating a minimum eligibility level across the country. And a new system has been put in place to allow you to apply for coverage using a single application that will have your eligibility determined for all of the available insurance affordability programs, greatly simplifying the process.
All in all, senior healthcare seems to be looking at a more secure future.
Costs are always a concern when you’re looking for affordable senior care, and under the ACA, new programs and funding improvements will help ensure that you can receive long-term care services and support both in your home or community.
The Affordable Care Act is changing how healthcare works in the United States, making affordable care a reality for many more seniors.