Tomorrow, one of the most significant pieces of the Affordable Care Act will go into effect: the Health Insurance Marketplace. When the health law commonly referred to as Obamacare was passed in 2010, October 1, 2013 was designated as the beginning of open enrollment. Starting tomorrow, individuals, families and smaller businesses can shop for insurance policies that will go into effect on January 1, 2014.
Below is an overview of how the changing health care market affects the nearly 50 million elderly and disabled Americans enrolled in Medicare:
You Don’t Need to Enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace
Medicare is not part of the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you’re already enrolled in Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you meet the federal government’s mandate for coverage and you don’t need to take any action during this open enrollment.
You Won’t Lose any of your Medicare Benefits or Choices
Regardless of whether you receive your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan or through Original Medicare, neither your benefits nor your choices will be changing with the opening of the Marketplace. In fact, Medicare benefits have been expanded with the Affordable Care Act and now cover preventative care services such as mammograms, colorectal screenings and annual “wellness” visits without a Part B coinsurance or deductible charge.
Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period has not Changed
The Marketplace’s open enrollment begins October 1, but Medicare’s Open Enrollment is still October 15 through December 7 and there are no current plans to change these dates.
Medicare is Protected for Years to Come, but Growth will Slow
Under the Affordable Care Act, the Medicare Trust Fund’s life will be extended to at least 2029. This 12-year extension was achieved through a reported reduction in medical fraud, abuse and waste. While Medicare officials promise that benefits will be protected, the Affordable Care Act will cut anticipated growth of Medicare spending by approximately $716 billion over the course of the next decade. These cuts will come in the form of reduced reimbursements to hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes and other providers, as well as lower payments to Medicare Advantage plans.
As always, it’s important to educate yourself regarding your own coverage options and any relevant changes that may affect the care of you and your loved ones. To learn more about Medicare coverage and your choices, visit www.Medicare.gov. For information about The Insurance Marketplace, visit www.healthcare.gov.