Friday, February 17

Health Care Reform-Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance

MEDICARE and MEDICAID are both like the backbone of the US health system.Both have there own benefits and drawbacks with respect to age limit.There has been much chatter and concern about the new health care laws. You yourself may be wondering how the Affordable Care act will affect you and your Medicare Benefits.
It will please you to know that the new law will not cut your Basic benefits. In fact, it will actually make some benefits better. The free annual wellness checkup is a good example of this. Starting 2011, your annual checkup and certain preventative screenings, like cancer and diabetes will be provided at no cost.

The new law will work towards better care when you do get sick by investing in testing ways to improve coordination between providers for patients with chronic conditions who see multiple providers.

What if you are hospitalized? Money talks and Hospitals will receive incentives to make sure that you get the education to take good care of yourself and the services you need in your community. This will help facilitate a successful return home. It will also help you avoid returning to the hospital.

What about drug coverage? Good news there as well. For those of us on multiple, costly prescription drugs, the Part D donut hole looms large. The law started affecting Medicare Part D in 2010 with the $250 rebate for those who went into the coverage gap on their drug plan. In 2011 you will receive a 50% discount on name brand drugs during the coverage gap.

Over the next nine years the donut hole will be closed little by little each year. By 2020 there will be no more coverage gap.

The law also addresses the issue of Medicare spending. Medicare spending is growing at a rate of 6.8% per year. The new law will not stop the growth but will slow it down over the next ten years to 5.5%. This sounds small but it is projected to save Medicare over 400 billion dollars over the next 10 years. How will this be accomplished?

Starting this year the law will reduce payment increases to providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies. These providers expect to see increased profit due to newly insured patients. Many have agreed to accept these payments. The law will also have an effect on Medicare funding of Advantage Plans. While the Advantage Plans initially were expected to save Medicare money, it turns out that these plans actually cost Medicare over $1,100 more per person than original medicare. Higher premiums paid by Medicare beneficiaries pay for this over payment. The new law will lower these payments over time to bring the costs more in line with original Medicare.

If you are one of the 25% of all seniors enrolled in these plans,the decreases in funding may affect you in several ways. You may find that your plan increases premiums, eliminates extra benefits like eye glasses. You may even find that your plan stops offering Medicare coverage entirely. You can rest assured however. The MA plans can not eliminate any of the benefits that Medicare gives, only the extra benefits can be affected and if you lose your plan you will have the right to switch to another plan or back to original Medicare. The new law will not cause you to lose your basic Medicare benefits.

New revenues are also expected, mostly from taxes assessed on tax payers with incomes of $200K and up. These new revenues combined with the savings are expected to reduce the deficit by $124 billion over the next 10 years and keep the Medicare Trust Fund viable for an additional nine years.

These are just a few of the highlights. A look at the upside of the Affordable Care Act.

Stephanie Coutavas is an Insurance Professional specializing in Senior Insurance Solutions and Medicare Insurance. Co- founder and Senior Broker at Sense Insurance Solutions Group. Stephanie decided to specialize in Medicare because, "I saw the effects of the confusion and misinformation in the senior market. I really feel that with the proper,correct information, presented in an understandable way that our Seniors can position themselves for the future and achieve the peace of mind and security that they deserve at this exciting stage of life. We strive one client at a time to make sure that we address the individual and that they are better for having met us, regardless of whether they choose us as their broker."
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