Worried about Grandma and Poppa under Health Reform? Fear Not.

Dear Cheasty,I saw a political advertisement the other day saying that the Affordable Health Care Act would not help out Senior citizens. It depicted President Obama pushing an elderly woman over cliff. Will the Affordable Health Care Act throw grandma over the cliff?????


Worried about Grandma

Dear WAG,

Oh, my goodness.  NO, NO, NO!!  The attack ad you saw, and others like it, are definitely not based on reality nor on any components of the actual health reform law. They are nothing more than politically motivated fear tactics designed to make people like you question the law.  The people who make those ads either don’t know or don’t care what the law actually says – maybe both.

In actuality, the ACA is going to improve health care for senior citizens big time once the law is fully implemented in 2014. And, here are some of the biggest improvements seniors are ALREADY enjoying right now as a result of the new law:

First, all seniors on Medicare are now receiving preventive care, FREE. That means annual exams, mammograms, screenings, colonoscopies, etc., all with no co-pay.

For a complete list of preventive care covered by the ACA, click here. You’ll be blown away by all the things you won’t be paying for!

Second, the ACA is closing the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole,” so seniors don’t end up paying so much out of pocket for their meds. The doughnut hole is what they call the $1,750 gap between when Medicare stops helping to pay for people’s prescription drug benefits and when it starts coverage again at “catastrophic” levels. The goal is to close that gap, so that Medicare ALWAYS helps seniors with their drug costs, and seniors are NEVER left to pay the full cost of drugs out of pocket.

The ACA is closing the gap gradually through rebate checks and steep discounts to drug costs, and it will be completely gone by 2020. Click here to read exactly how they are doing it.

Lastly, let’s talk about seniors who don’t rely on Medicare, but instead have private insurance associated with a pension or retirement package. Any health insurance plan that was active as of March 23, 2010 (the date the law was signed) will be grandfathered into the new system.

This means that for seniors counting on their pension-related insurance, nothing will change in 2014 except that the plans they already have will be more robust to meet their needs.

And, these are just a few of the benefits that ALL insurance plans, regardless of grandfathered status, will be required to provide for consumers:

  • No lifetime limits on coverage for all plans;
  • No cancellation of coverage when people get sick and have previously made an unintentional mistake on their application;
  • No “restricted” annual limits.

In sum, not only does the ACA not push Grandma off the cliff, it helps her to stay healthy, save money, and count upon better coverage under whatever health plan she might have, private insurance or Medicare.

Please lay your fears to rest, dear WAG.  Grandma is going to be just fine, if not better than before, if we can just hang onto this important law.  Thanks for your letter.

To a well and healthy Texas, Cheasty Anderson