New Healthcare Overhaul Coming––Benchmark Financial

New Healthcare Overhaul Coming

By Tucker Thompson, Collin County LIVING WELL Magazine

Medicare. The impact of the Affordable Care Act has already been positive for millions of Americans on Medicare. Part of the act requires coverage for a slew of preventive annual care, including free physicals, pap smears, colonoscopies, prostate cancer screenings, flu shots and more from physicians who accept Medicare patients. Medicare recipients with high prescription drug costs are beginning to see some cost savings in their drugs, along with savings from a shrinking gap in the donut hole. If you’re on Medicare, take advantage of these free preventive services each year to help you maintain your health, and by all means review your prescription drug plans, Medicare supplements and advantage plans each year to help insure you have the best coverage at the best price!

People Under Age 65. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, people under 65 will have access to new coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Enrollment begins Oct. 1, 2013 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. While all coverage will be the same, there will be three different “exchanges” offering and running the plans: the state, the federal government or designated insurance companies. All policies will be unisex, guaranteed issue regardless of pre-existing conditions, offering coverage for hospitalization, physician visits, prescriptions, emergency room treatment, maternal, newborn and preventive care.

Various factors determine the cost of these new plans. Tobacco users will pay more. Middle aged people and those nearing retirement can’t be charged more than three times what younger customers pay. Oct. 1, 2013, legal U.S. residents can apply for financial assistance in the form of tax credits, which will go directly to the insurers. There are “sliding” scales for amounts credited, with the maximum income to qualify for any subsidy for individuals and families capped at four times federal poverty level. People with higher incomes can choose a “Bronze Plan” covering 60% of expected healthcare costs, “Silver” covering 70%, Gold 80% or a “Platinum Plan” covering 90% of approved healthcare costs. The monthly premiums for these plans have not yet been disclosed.

Tucker Thompson, the author, has worked in the insurance field for over 20 years. He is often a guest speaker on topics related to the ever changing landscape of medical insurance for people of all ages.