Due to the global recession and increasingly shrinking number of jobs that provide good health insurance coverage, many U.S. citizens are understandably worried about how the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare or the ACA) will change their lives. First and foremost among those concerned are the elderly, who are often on a fixed income that may or may not include a pension, along with Social Security benefits. First, it is necessary to establish that the Affordable Care Act will not diminish or replace your Medicare coverage. Partisan conflict and misinformation has clouded this issue, but the fact remains: Medicare coverage will not be removed. Elderly citizens will still have the same health insurance coverage and benefits that they presently enjoy.
What’s more is that under Obamacare, certain aspects of Medicare have been improved and expanded. The ACA now offers coverage for essential preventative services like mammograms and colonoscopies, as well as coverage for a free yearly wellness exam. These offerings will help to improve overall health by increasing the likelihood of identifying a serious illness or injury in its initial stages, prior to it wreaking serious harm (and costing citizens by necessitating advanced hospital procedures or other healthcare services). Some citizens may also receive improved prescription drug coverage, even for brand-name pharmaceutical drugs. Costs for prescription drug coverage and pharmaceutical drugs are projected to fall through 2020. Some elderly individuals may find themselves in the “donut hole” which is the amount beyond what prescription drug coverage that Medicare will subsidize, which is in turn dependent on a patient’s total expenditure. If an individual spends more than $2970.00 on prescription drugs in 2013, their Medicare benefits in terms of prescription drug coverage drop. These coverage levels are projected to shift yearly.
Other Affordable Care Act benefits for seniors include free counseling for smokers to quit, as it is considered one of the many covered preventative healthcare services. For individuals who have a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare part C), Obamacare also provides bonuses to health insurance providers. Insurance companies who make improvements to their Medicare part C offerings will receive special benefits. There are some drawbacks for seniors, however. Depending on what adjustments health insurance providers intend to make, some seniors may see higher co-payments or premiums, as well as ancillary losses in things like dental care. Citizens who are receiving Medicare or Medicaid are advised to contact local healthcare providers to see exactly what kinds of changes are incoming.