Affordable Care Act brings changes to Medicare

The Affordable Care Act brings many changes for everyone. People with Medicare will also see some changes to their coverage.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010 brought changes for senior citizens. These changes are the biggest to Medicare and Medicaid since the 1960s.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have a significant impact on American seniors now and in the future. So what changes have been made for seniors through the Affordable Care Act? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Affordable Care Act has extended the solvency of Medicare from 2016 to 2024. This means the program will b able to cover its expenses without going beyond its income. Without the ACA, the program was projected to be insolvent by 2016.

The Affordable Care Act will also eliminate what is commonly known as the prescription drug "donut hole" by the year 2020. Currently, seniors have a limit on the amount of insurance coverage for prescription drugs. Once someone reaches that limit, they become 100% responsible for the cost of their prescription drugs. When a person reaches the maximum out of pocket cost, a catastrophic insurance plan covers the cost of the drugs. This coverage process occurs annually. The Affordable Care Act will eliminate the "donut hole” for people on Medicare paying for prescription drugs

The Affordable Care Act offers other provisions for seniors as well. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services, Medicare will now provide a free wellness visit. This wellness visit is not an annual physical though. An annual physical typically has other procedures that an individual may have to pay for. The ACA will provide some preventative health services and screenings without any out-of-pocket costs, so one needs to be clear when they visit their doctor's office what they are requesting when they schedule a doctor visit.

In addition, new funding will be provided through the ACA to encourage home and community based long term care options that will allow people to age at home instead of in a nursing home. The ACA will introduce new taxes to raise revenue for Medicare that may affect higher income seniors. Also, the ACA will provide funding to implement the Elder Justice Act provisions of the law that deal with preventing and prosecuting elder abuse.

Michigan State University Extension is offering weekly web based educational sessions on making a Smart Choice in the health insurance marketplace. For more information of these seminars and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), visit The Affordable Care Act Roadmap.

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