Whatever your thoughts on its merits, in the relatively short time since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already had a huge impact on health care in the United States—on insurers, hospitals, and physicians, of course, but also on patients and taxpayers.
How the ACA affects you personally, though, is largely determined by the segment of the population you belong to. Lower-income people may gain expanded access to Medicaid, for example, while those near the top of the range may see an added tax burden to help pay for the legislation’s provisions. Those with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied insurance coverage, but many who previously had covered access to a large network of physicians and specialists may see that network shrink, limiting their choices.
All of which could have a profound effect on retirees, whose demographics cut across income brackets, health status, and age.
IMPACT ON MEDICARE
The ACA will have both short- and long-term implications for Medicare consumers. In the short term, there isn’t likely to be a great deal of direct impact felt by retirees who are enrolled in Medicare and use it as their primary form of health insurance. The premiums paid, coverage options, and process for receiving care will all remain essentially the same. The most immediate impact will be felt by health care providers who will likely see a reduction in reimbursement amounts for the services they provide.
Over the long term this reduction in reimbursement may cause some providers to reduce or eliminate their willingness to provide services to Medicare patients simply because they can earn more by serving other patients. In time this may make it more difficult for Medicare enrollees to find a health care provider in their area.
IMPACT ON SUPPLEMENTAL INSURANCE POLICIES
Neither Medicare nor “Medigap” policies are a part of the federal health care exchange program or the ACA. Consumers will continue to be able to buy supplemental insurance the same way as before.
One of the main differences you may notice is that all health insurance plans are now required to cover free preventive care, such as annual wellness checks or some cancer screenings, so you’ll see some policies change to provide these new benefits if they didn’t already. Medicare and Medigap annual enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7, 2014; it’s a good idea to review the policies available to make sure the plan you’re selecting fits your needs.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
The health insurance industry will continue to evolve in part as a result of the ACA and in part as a result of our society’s changing demographics. For many people, the short-term impact is going to be minimal, but it’s a good idea to be a smarter consumer today and consider all your options for coverage each year.
Call us for more questions that you might have at (909) 792-3300