In this, the fourth year of the Affordable Care Act roll out, we’ll get the opportunity to see seeing how the legislation’s most impactful senior healthcare reforms fit together—and determine the future of senior care in the United States.
At a Glance: Changes in Senior Healthcare Since 2010, According the US Department of Health & Human Services & Medicaid.
- 2010 & 2011: The new Patient's Bill of Rights went into effect as a means of protecting consumers from the insurance industry abuse. At this point many Americans are able to take advantage of a number of different no-cost preventive health services.
- 2012 & 2013: As of 2012, people with Medicare can now receive key preventive healthcare services at no cost and also receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs in the Medicare “donut hole” coverage gap. 2013 saw Accountable Care Organizations working to reduce hospital readmissions, which are now penalized under Medicare reimbursement programs, and the beginning of open enrollment in the health insurance marketplace.
Now in 2014, it remains to be seen whether the Affordable Care Act will help or hurt senior healthcare as cuts in hospital reimbursements and other services go into full effect.
It would be wonderful if we could assume that seniors will benefit from the continued reform, but the true effect of the legislation remains to be seen.
With the inauguration of the Health Exchange, already overt-taxed hospitals will begin seeing millions of newly insured Americans added to their service bases while Medicare reimbursement is drastically reduced.
Seniors and their caregivers are undoubtedly anxious about how the $500 billion reduction in Medicare spending will impact senior healthcare they receive, but the good news is that relying on Medicare reimbursement for hospital services isn’t the only wayfor seniors to meet healthcare needs.
Taking a Proactive Approach to Wellness
We know that cutting funding for benefits directly affects those dependent on those benefits. So, what can be done? Seniors can find supportive environment that takes a proactive approach to health, for starters—an important consideration when choosing a retirement community where your loved ones can enjoy their golden years.
1. Always choose an active lifestyle.
Whether you're already weighing your options or you’ve just started looking for a community, turn your attention to the activities offered. Research has consistently shown that seniors stay healthier for longer when they live in a social community.
Consider whether a community offers the following:
- Access to arts and entertainment. Seniors who socialize regularly tend to be happier and experience less stress and are, therefore, less likely to experience a number of different serious health concerns.
- Availability of sports and exercise programs. Will your loved ones be able to take advantage of activities like yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, golf and tennis? Is there a hiking or cycling group you can join? Look for communities and centers that offer activities for residents at all levels of fitness.
2. Select environments that focus on wellness rather than disease care.
Unless your parents have a pre-existing condition that requires constant medical supervision or intervention, a skilled nursing facility probably isn’t the best choice. Instead, look for retirement communities that take a preventive approach to wellness.
While access to skilled nursing care may be ideal for a senior who suffers from dementia, a community that offers variety of activities (both social and fitness) and wellness services like healthy dining options, cooking or nutrition classes, and spa therapies may be a better option for an older adult who does not yet need professional medical care.
And the lifestyle that these types of senior services offer may, in fact, help keep senior healthcare a manageable concern.