How will health care reform affect Medicare and the elderly?


The health care reform bill will provide added benefits and savings to those who are eligible for Medicare. In addition, the eligibility requirements of Medicare will be expanded so that more people, particularly seniors, can get covered under Medicare.

Here are some enhancements to Medicare that will positively affect the elderly:

  • Improving the prescription drug benefit. The previous policy was that Medicare would pay for $2,700 worth of prescription drugs. Then, once this limit is reached Medicare will not pay for any more prescription drugs up until the insured has already spent $6,154 on the benefit. When this happens, Medicare will once again take up coverage. This is what is called the "doughnut hole".

    With the new bill, senior citizens will receive $250 to help defray their prescription bill expenses. Eventually, they will receive subsidies of up to 75% of the expenses that fall within the "unpayable" portion of the prescription drugs benefit. That is, it will cover three-fourths of the expenses between $2,700 and $6,154. This means that the bill will eventually make sure that there are no gaps in Medicare's coverage of prescription drugs.

  • The new plans Medicare will offer will provide added preventive care benefits. These benefits can be availed of without seniors having to shell out money for co-payments. This benefit will also include wellness services and visits. This includes screening for cancer and check-ups for high-blood pressure.
  • Additional visits to the primary care physician. The elderly can now enjoy more visits to their primary care doctor.
  • Medicare benefits will not be cut. However, some payments to hospitals and home healthcare will be reduced.
  • Discounts on prescription drugs. Starting 2011, there will be a 50% discount on prescription drugs that are spent within the donut hole. These discounts will continually increase until there is no donut hole to speak of.
  • Low income seniors may also avail of subsidies for Medicare premiums and even co-payments and deductibles.
  • Cuts of Medicare Advantage. The bad news is that those who buy Medicare Advantage may have to face higher premiums and cuts in their benefits.
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