Facts about healthcare coverage and retiree benefit programs are crucial. Finding good sources for information or asking questions, and developing an understanding of the basics about healthcare reform and retiree benefits can help seniors and their families find solutions quickly.
The key purpose of healthcare reform is to provide healthcare for the thirty million uninsured people in the United Stats and to close the Medicare prescription doughnut hole within the next decade. It will also address healthcare insurance situations for those with a pre-existing condition, and for those whose policies were canceled when they became ill. The most important element for seniors of course is the gap in the Medicare Part D drug benefits in which those enrolled must pay the full cost of medication until qualifying for catastrophic coverage.
A study published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that among the seniors who reached the gap while not receiving any low-income subsidies only 15% qualified for catastrophic coverage. This left many patients suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and arthritis paying the bulk of their of their prescription costs. This caused many seniors to either dangerously reduce their medication dosages or go without the needed medication entirely after reaching the gap.
According a report by Klinger.com healthcare reform will begin closing the gap in 2011. Those seniors who reach the hole in 2010 receive a $250 rebate. Starting next year drug companies will be required to provide a discount of 50% on any name-brand drugs. Preventive care like wellness visits or yearly check ups will no longer be cost sharing which will encourage more seniors to monitor their health before an illness even starts. The downside of the reform appears in bigger premiums for Plan B among higher income seniors. However, if a senior’s income is far lower than at the point of initially qualifying for Medicare then it is possible to see these surcharges reduced by filing an appeal.
Some parts of the new reform might make staying employed longer an easier choice. For those who are 55 or older and still employed there is a reinsurance program. The senior can keep health benefits from their employer who in turn can be reimbursed. Under this program, the insurer working with the employer can also be reimbursed for claims between $15,000 and $90,000. There are downsides to this reinsuring program. It only lasts until January 1, 2014 and it won’t reimburse costs for retirees eligible for Medicare. There is also a payroll deduction program, which allows employees to insure themselves against disability.
This is also a downside for those of retirement age who continue to work as the self employed. By 2014, the new law will require all United States residents to be insured. For those still working this mandates becoming insured even for those who have never had coverage before or have a pre-existing condition, but the brighter side is no one can be denied because of pre-existing conditions, and the costs of coverage will go down.
Very reliable answers to health care laws for seniors can be found on the AARP.org’s Health Care Explained page. Forms, telephone numbers, and government contacts regarding health care and Medicare are available at the Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare.