Friday, 04 October 2013
How Obamacare Affects Medicare
By now, readers age 65 and older have probably received their annual issue of Medicare and You, the not-so-small booklet that tells you a lot of what you need to know about Medicare for 2014.
The government shutdown notwithstanding, ten days from now on Tuesday 15 October, Medicare open enrollment begins and will continue until 7 December.
Sometime toward the end of next week, I will publish – as I do every year - a primer about this year's changes and enrollment procedures. But today, I want to answer some of the questions that have come up and be sure you know how Obamacare – aka the Affordable Care Act - affects Medicare.
First and most important, the new “marketplaces” also called “exchanges” apply only to Obamacare, to people too young for Medicare.
There has been some confusion about this among some Medicare beneficiaries so let me say it again: If you are on Medicare, you do not need to even think about the exchanges/marketplace. They do not apply to you in any way.
Both original and Advantage Plan Medicare coverages are purchased in the same way you have always done it.
Although it has not been in the forefront of political news lately as it has in the past, the solvency of Medicare benefits from Obamacare.
Through better control of fraud, waste and abuse, solvency has been extended from previous predictions by 12 years until 2029. I don't have any idea how this works so for now, I'm taking their word for it and moving on.
Thanks to Obamacare, more preventive services are now free under Medicare as long as the physician or other qualified health professional accepts assignment.
Most well known of these are mammograms, flu shots, colonoscopies and an annual wellness visit. Others include diabetes screenings, glaucoma tests, certain home health services, prostate cancer screenings and many more.
You will find a complete list with explanations of all preventive care services in your Medicare and You booklet on pages 35-55.
Drug Plans and the Donut Hole
New due to Obamacare: If you are in the donut hole, you will get a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs that are covered by your Part D plan. The discount will be applied at the pharmacy; you do not need to do anything to get the discount.
The donut hole is gradually being closed and will be gone completely by 2020.
That's it. This is the easy part; I'm saving all the tedious stuff for next week.
If it is more convenient for you, there is an online edition of Medicare and You 2014 [pdf].
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On Making It Through the Nineteen-Sixties