It’s going to take a while – perhaps until the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented in 2014 – to really see how things shake out. And to really understand the costs.
Take Medicaid, for example. The ACA had originally mandated that states wishing to participate in the new joint federal-state program must adopt expanded Medicaid eligibility and coverage standards. However, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress can’t penalize states who choose not to expand Medicaid. As a result, states won’t lose their existing Medicaid funds if they don’t comply with the new standards.
It does seem reasonable to assume, though, that expanded eligibility and coverage standards will help many seniors who are unable to work because of a disability… and who sometimes have to make the horrible choice between eating and paying for their medications.
Some provisions that could help include…
- Coverage of certain preventive services in all new health plans.
- Reduction of the Medicare prescription-drug donut hole at first… then elimination of it in 2020.
- Beginning next year, the federal government will provide financial incentives to states offering preventive-care coverage under Medicaid. And patients won’t have to pay anything for some things.
- Starting in 2014, individuals and small businesses (up to 100 employees) will be able to purchase coverage (including Medicaid and CHIP programs) through state exchanges.
- As of 2014, there will no longer be annual limits on coverage or guaranteed coverage. The phrase “pre-existing conditions” will be permanently erased from the elder care dictionary. Applicants will be “rated” based only upon their age, geographic area, family history, and whether they’ve smoked – nothing else. And this will be true whether you’re purchasing insurance individually, from the state exchanges, or from your (small-business) employer.
Despite all this, however, it would be a (major!) mistake to assume that all Medicare beneficiaries and disabled seniors will benefit from ACA. For example, starting next year, the threshold for itemized deductions for unreimbursed medical expenses increases from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 10 percent (except if you’re over 65… at least until 2016).
Having said all this, keep in mind, if you’re a Floridian, that Gov. Scott may fight implementation of the bill. And if he succeeds, of course, all bets are off.
It’s all very confusing… even to many of the legislators who voted on it! In fact, you’ll probably find that the only person who can “translate” ACA for you – in language you’ll understand – is an Elder Law attorney.
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we practice Elder Law – and only Elder Law. And, over the past 33 years, we’ve “translated” for thousands of South Florida families, with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid and the VA.
We’ll walk you through the Elder Law Journey. And we’re just a phone call away.
Healthcare Act Still Leaves Some Hurdles For Seniors (Part Two)