Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Will the Health Exchanges Mean for Seniors?

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...
English: President Barack Obama's signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Affordable Care Act will go into effect on January 1, 2014. Most people are trying to prepare for the new law to go into effect. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about the law that may prevent people from making informed decisions. The effect that the health exchanges will have on seniors is especially confusing. You will need to know what the health exchanges are and how they will impact you. Here are some things you should know.

Health Exchanges Won’t Replace Medicare


The federal government recently hired Kelton, an independent consulting firm, to find out what seniors believe about Medicare. Their new survey found that 86% of seniors believe that the new health exchanges will replace Medicare. A number of other seniors believe that the eligibility age for Medicare will increase when the law goes into effect.

Many seniors are foregoing healthcare, choosing not to fill prescriptions or looking for a part-time job because they think that they won’t receive the assistance they need. They may even forego getting assisted living such as by visiting a senior neighborhood living in Reading, PA.

Health officials want to make sure that they understand the new law so that they can make better decisions. Here are some of the misconceptions they want to clarify:

  • Eligible seniors will still receive Medicare after the ACA goes into effect.
  • The ACA will not raise the eligibility age for Medicare.
  • They shouldn’t expect to pay more for prescription drugs.
  • They can begin enrolling in Medicare in October.

Eligible seniors should still apply for Medicare. However, they may find that Medicare won’t cover all the services they need. You will want to know how to buy private insurance on the exchanges as well.

Tips for Buying Insurance on the Exchanges


Many seniors will want to consider buying insurance on the health exchanges. They may not be old enough to qualify for Medicare yet or would rather have a more comprehensive policy. Here are some guidelines to help you choose.

Understanding Your Rights


The Affordable Care Act carries a number of changes for seniors looking to buy health care. Insurers will no longer be allowed to disqualify them from receiving coverage based on their age or preexisting conditions. However, they will be allowed to charge seniors up to three times as much for coverage.

Tips for Reducing Premiums


The health care law prohibits insurers from setting higher premiums based on preexisting conditions. However, it does allow them to charge higher premiums to people who smoke. You may want to consider kicking the habit if you want to reduce your premiums.

You may also be able to receive lower premiums if you participate in an employer sponsored health plan. You should consider doing so if you are still working.

Look Into Subsidies


You will want to see if you are eligible for any of the subsidies. Anyone who is making less than 400% of the poverty line will be eligible for subsidies. You will want to apply for these subsidies if you are below this income threshold.

Understand the Health Plan Classifications


You will need to decide whether you want to pay lower premiums every month or lower deductibles. This will depend on what services you believe you will need in the future.

You can already offset your insurance premiums by paying higher deductibles and copays. The health exchanges will make it easier for you to choose a plan that meets your needs. You can choose between bronze, silver, gold and platinum policies. The bronze policies offer the lowest premiums but the highest deductibles. Premiums will be higher while deductibles will be lower with the other plans.

About the Author: Kalen is a financial advice writer with an MBA. He shares tips to help people of all ages plan for the future.


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