One of the primary goals of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is to slow the rate of previously projected Medicare increases by $716 billion from 2013 to 2022. Some changes to Medicare designated by health care reform have already gone into effect, and some will not be instituted until 2014. Let’s take a look at a few of the major changes that have already taken place, as well as impending changes:
- The Medicare open enrollment period was extended to seven weeks, and now runs from October 15 through December 7. During this time, those who are already enrolled in a traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan can switch plans. Coverage changes made in 2012 will take effect January 1, 2013.
- Co-payments are no longer being charged for a large variety of preventive screenings and immunizations. In addition, providers can now offer an annual wellness visit for beneficiaries, and charge Medicare for it.
- Those enrolled in Medicare plans who fall into the coverage gap, commonly referred to as the “donut hole,” currently receive discounts on both generic and brand name drugs.
- Looking forward, the aforementioned medication discounts will expand in 2013 and increase on a continuous basis until 2020. At this time, Medicare beneficiaries will be responsible annually for 25 percent of the cost of medications covered by Medicare Part D plans once they meet their deductible.
- This month, Medicare started reducing payments to hospitals with excessive readmission rates for patients over the past three years. Hospitals are now being penalized for patients afflicted with pneumonia, heart attack or heart failure who returned within 30 days of being discharged.
You can learn more about how the Affordable Care Act affects Medicare and other types of health insurance coverage by visiting the health care reform section in the GoHealth media center.