ObamaCare: How Will It Affect Seniors?

Over the last year or so I’ve had a number of people ask me, “How will ObamaCare affect seniors and/or Medicare coverage?” Quite honestly, it’s not a question I felt I had a good answer to. But did anyone really? I think some seniors feared the worse, and others didn’t know what to think.

As you dive into all the information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a.k.a. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, and depending on your political leanings, you’ll encounter a broad spectrum of feelings and opinions on the matter. The detractors deem it as “socialized medicine” and feel its reliance on further taxation and government control over its citizen’s health is just plain wrong. But let’s keep in mind that Medicare and Medicaid (a.k.a. Medical Assistance) are forms of publicly funded health care, which essentially makes those programs socialized medicine. Thank goodness those programs exist – especially Medicare for retirees, right? But on the flip side Medicare has many flaws. And some analysts maintain that it will not exist in its present form due to the massive number of baby boomers that will receive Medicare and put a huge strain on an already huge deficit. Then we could pose the question, “What if Medicare was never implemented by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965?” Would we be better off with a completely capitalist national health system? We may never know. But do we think that private sector would ever take advantage of its health care subscribers, even if stiffly regulated by the government? Unfortunately, I think we know the answer to that.

It’s very easy and very dizzying to go round and round with this debate just as the government has done for nearly 100 years dating all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt. But I’m not here to pick sides or say whether the ACA is good or bad for our country. I’ll keep my opinions to myself.  However, I would like to share a brief synopsis from the AARP website that gives an overview of how Medicare will be affected by the Affordable Care Act. Some people may argue these points, but these benefits are commonly stated through a multitude of sources.

The Affordable Care Act: This law strengthens Medicare by including more preventative benefits, lowering the price of prescription drugs in the Part D doughnut hole, and fighting waste and fraud.

•Your guaranteed benefits are protected. You earned your Medicare over a lifetime of work. The health care law protects your guaranteed benefits so you can always get the care you need when you need it.

•The health care law lowers prescription drug costs. If you have Medicare Part D, and you reach the coverage gap or “doughnut hole” in 2013, you will get more than a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and more than a 20 percent discount on generic drugs while you are in the coverage gap. The discounts will continue to grow until 2020, when the gap will be a thing of the past.

•More preventative care is covered. Medicare now covers yearly wellness visits and more preventative care. This includes cancer, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, immunizations, diet counseling and more.

•The health care law fights fraud, scams and waste that take money from the Medicare program. The law strengthens Medicare by adding more resources to catch those who fraudulently bill Medicare. 

For more details from AARP on the Health Care Law and Medicare [click here]

There is also a great link [click here] through AARP to learn how the health care law affects you and your family regardless of age, status or income. It asks a series of questions to replicate an individual’s current status regarding healthcare benefits or lack thereof.

Also see ObamaCare and insurance exchange: 10 essential things to know [click here]

And lastly, if you enjoy a good debate and you’d like a sampling of public opinion for and against ObamaCare, check out this link at debate.org [click here].

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

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