Now that the US Supreme Court has upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act with their recent decision in King v. Burwell, it looks like the Affordable Care Act ("ACA") is here to stay. Overall, this is good news for seniors. Here's why:
1. Free Preventive Care. Thanks to the ACA, Medicare beneficiaries are now entitled to receive certain types of preventive care at no charge, such as screening tests for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
2. Annual Check-Ups. As a result of the ACA's mandate to cover more preventive care, Medicare Part B now covers a "Welcome to Medicare" physician visit during the first year of Medicare coverage and an annual "Wellness" physician visit every year thereafter. As long as your doctor accepts assignment, these visits are free.
3. Better Prescription Drug Coverage. The ACA is making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors by slowly closing the Medicare Part D "donut hole" for prescription drugs. The donut hole will be closed completely by 2020.
4. Improved Financial Outlook for Medicare. The ACA contains multiple provisions designed to lower health care costs by improving efficiency and reducing waste, fraud and abuse. At least in part due to these reforms, the Medicare Trustees recently estimated that the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended to 2029, an increase of approximately 12 years.
5. Improved Coordination of Care. The ACA authorized a number of pilot programs designed to improve coordination of care among health care providers. The goal of these pilot programs is to improve patient care while lowering health care costs by creating ways for health care providers to better coordinate patient care. (If you've ever had to repeat a diagnostic test because the doctor or hospital didn't have the results of your prior testing, you'll understand the need for better coordination of care and sharing of information among health care providers.) Initial results have shown promise. June 29, 2015