The Affordable Care Act was designed with the intention to help uninsured Americans access affordable healthcare. The changes brought on the ability for those uninsured or underinsured to take advantage of not only preventative services, but also to receive the medical care that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
The ACA is of special importance for seniors and the elderly as they often need more services and resources than the average adult. Here are just a few of the changes in senior insurance under the ACA.
Many folks were afraid that the ACA would take Medicare off of its tracks but, luckily, it did the opposite. Medicare has been expanded in a number of ways in order to provide better healthcare and medical coverage for seniors everywhere. Many people mistakenly assume the Medicare and the ACA coincide with one another, but the reality is that Medicare isn’t a part of the ACA, so it’s extremely important that seniors do not replace their existing Medicare plans with a new Marketplace plan.
Of course, seniors recently dodged a metaphorical bullet when Congress finally passed a budget. Originally, Medicare Part B—which covers medically necessary services like diagnostics and treatments, and preventative services—premiums were set to hike 52%. The new budget deal means that beneficiaries of Medicare will only see a rate increase of 14%, from $104.90 up to $120 a month.
Most seniors are living off of a fixed income, and with that comes a lot of restrictions on standards of living as well as medical and health coverage, which is why the ACA worked to build a better plan that provides lower costs associated with seniors and their healthcare. Part of the ACA’s plan is to increase access to medical services, like preventive care services, by lowering the costs of those visits.
This is particularly important given that there won’t be a cost of living adjustment for social security next year. For just the third time in 40 years, the feds have opted to not provide a COLA for recipients of social security. Combined with increased costs from Medicare Part B, many seniors may still find themselves struggling month to month based on their current budgets and retirement savings.
So while the ACA provides reduced costs, it still behooves seniors who rely on social security to cut expenses and find alternative investment opportunities in order to make due on these newly increased costs. This could be as simple as creating new budgets and tightening the purse strings. Some seniors may prefer to cut superfluous expenses—like life insurance premiums, for example—and opt to put that money into savings accounts instead.
Closing the Prescription Gap
When the ACA was put into effect in 2013, there was a drastic difference between coverage limits on brand-name and generic prescription drugs. In 2013, individuals were expected to pay 47% for brand-names and 79% for generic drugs. Luckily, the ACA has provisions to lower the costs for prescriptions more and more every year until 2020. By the 2020 benchmark, both brand-names and generics will cap at 25%
Higher Medical Bill Tax
Itemized tax deductions for out-of-pocket expenses have increased from 7.5% to 10%. While this allows for more usable out-of-pocket cash for medical expenses, it also means a higher tax bill, so while it’ll be tempting to pull out more for medical expenses, think about how it can affect your taxes at the end of the year. The general hope is that with reduced costs for prescriptions and medical services, this extra amount won’t be necessary.
Many seniors live in worry that they may outlive their retirement savings. As the ACA continues to change the face of insurance and specifically, Medicare, seniors and retirees may have to rely on other means to make ends meet. If this is a concern for you, talk to a financial or insurance expert to learn about more of your options. Insurance is a very important part of a comfortable retirement, and it’s important that you understand how you can afford it.
Leo LaGrotte is founder and chief executive officer of Life Settlement Advisors.