As the nation ramps up to the new rules and regulations instituted under the Affordable Care Act, some elderly citizens have become confused by all the attention given to the Health Insurance Marketplace. No worries: the Marketplace is only for people who don’t have any health coverage, so anyone who is already covered by Medicare will not be affected.
No changes need be made — as in the past, Medicare beneficiaries will go to Medicare.gov to sign up for plans when open enrollment starts Oct. 15 and closes Dec. 7.
"We want to reassure Medicare beneficiaries that they are already covered, their benefits aren't changing, and the marketplace doesn't require them to do anything different," Julie Bataille, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Associated Press.
What You Need To Know
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).
Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Medicare Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. (“Original Medicare” is when the government pays for your Part A and/or Part B benefits because you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working.) Those receiving Social Security are automatically enrolled in Medicare parts A and B when they turn 65. These plans automatically renew each year.
Medicare Part C, also known as the Medicare Advantage Plan, is a more extensive plan that is offered by a private company to provide all Part A and Part B benefits. Those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan have services covered through the plan that would not be under Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans include Preferred Provider Organizations, Health Maintenance Organizations, Private Fee-for-Service Plans, Special Needs Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage. Medicare Part C requires that a person re-enroll annually. Medicare Part D adds prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare and requires annual enrollment.
Federal health officials plan to send a handbook next month to the almost 50 million Medicare beneficiaries to answer any questions they may have in light of the Affordable Care Act. Bottom line: individuals who currently receive Medicare through Original Medicare or a Medicare health plan will be unaffected by Obamacare and receive the exact same benefits they currently have now. Those who will be renewing their enrollment or signing up for Medicare for the first time can access Medicare.gov as usual here.