Myths and Facts about Medicare and the ACA (Obamacare)
From Retired and Senior Volunteer Program
All the buzz around the Affordable Care Act has many people scratching their heads. The government shutting down doesn’t add any comfort to this equation. To offset some of the confusion, here are some myths and facts about how Medicare will be affected by the ACA.
1. Myth: Medicare is ending. The Affordable Care Act is not replacing Medicare. Medicare is actually expected to become stronger because of the ACA.
2. Myth: If you are on Medicare, you still need to buy more health insurance through Cover Oregon to be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. The ACA requires individuals who are currently uninsured to purchase insurance or else face a hefty penalty. Medicare is health insurance. Therefore, there is no need to purchase anything through Cover Oregon. In fact, you cannot purchase more insurance if you are on Medicare. If you are unhappy with your current Medicare coverage, you are in luck. October 15 – December 7 is the Open Enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries to review their current plan and possibly enroll in a better plan.
3. True: High income Medicare beneficiaries will pay more for their medications under the Affordable Care Act. Under new guidelines laid out by the ACA, Medicare beneficiaries with an income of more than $85,000 per person, or $170,000 per couple, will pay more for their prescription drug coverage. This will only affect a small percentage of beneficiaries. In fact, for the rest of beneficiaries, drug costs should go down. The ACA plans to close the “donut hole” entirely by the year 2020.
4. True: Medicare premiums are rising SLIGHTLY. Medicare premiums rise annually, and this started long before the ACA was even in the works. Premiums will continue to rise in small amounts annually, but this is not due to the ACA. Again, those higher-income beneficiaries ($85,000 for an individual, or $170,000 for a couple) will continue to pay higher premiums on their Part B, which is something that has been in place for 6 years.
5. True: If you are on Medicare (at least Parts A and B), you do not need to do anything to be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. However, while the ACA is not directly affecting Medicare costs, some Medicare plans are changing in 2014. For some plans, premiums are going up or down, certain drugs will no longer be covered, and some plans are being eliminated entirely.
6. True: If you are unsure what changes are coming for your plan, don’t worry – there is help! The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program, SHIBA, is here to help. The program is run by volunteers who must go through training every year to stay current on changes to Medicare plans. You have the chance to meet with a certified volunteer counselor in your area. Call the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) to make a one-on-one appointment with a SHIBA counselor, (541) 574-2684. This is a free and confidential service.