by Christopher Jackson
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” was passed in early 2010. The Act has been, and continues to be, highly debated and fiercely contested in both the press and Congress. Even so, the ACA is viewed as the biggest overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. While the ACA mainly focused on providing healthcare for uninsured individuals, the Act also made changes to seniors’ Medicare plans.
Throughout 2013, many individuals heard news coverage of others losing their current insurance coverage effective January 1, 2014. Some individuals received letters stating that they would not be able to keep their current health care plans because they did not comply with the minimum coverage requirements of the ACA. Individuals receiving Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or TRICARE are not impacted by the minimum coverage requirements and therefore do not have to worry about their coverage being cancelled.
Medicare and Medicare Advantage recipients benefit in many ways from the changes in coverage made by the ACA. Medicare beneficiaries are now able to receive preventative care with no out-of-pocket expenses. Free preventative visits include an annual physical, which can help catch dangerous health conditions before they become untreatable and gives seniors a chance to discuss their healthcare needs with their doctor. Seniors can also take advantage of free screenings for colorectal and breast cancer, diseases which impact many seniors.
Important for seniors’ pocketbooks, the Medicare Part B premium has increased at a lower rate than previously projected and the Medicare annual deductible has remained the same for the past two years. Furthermore, Medicare recipients who fall into the “donut hole” for prescription drugs will save over $1,000 per year due to changes in prescription coverage and the donut hole will be fully closed by 2020.
Seniors on Medicare Advantage can continue to stay enrolled with Medicare Advantage and most can expect a decrease in their premiums, thanks to provisions in the ACA which reduce the amount of profit insurers can make on Medicare Advantage plans. Yet, some Medicare Advantage plans might drop eye and dental coverage, or even their complementary health spa memberships, as means of decreasing costs for both the insurers and the insured.
As with any law as expansive as the ACA, this blog post only covers the basic changes regarding the ACA and Medicare. Elder Law of Michigan provides many resources to assist seniors in issues regarding private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicare Advantage. If you have questions regarding your Medicare coverage, please call the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors at Elder Law of Michigan at 1-800-347-5297.
Christopher Jackson is an attorney at Elder Law of Michigan, and has been a member of the Elder Law team since early 2014. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Indianapolis, and graduated with his Juris Doctor in 2013 from Michigan State University College of Law. As an attorney at Elder Law, Christopher provides legal advice to Michigan seniors on a wide-variety of areas, including estate planning, wills and trusts, Medicare/Medicaid, social security benefits, and insurance issues.