Affordable Care Act offers benefits for seniorsOn Senior Health Day, take advantage of Obamacare. Today is National Senior Health and Fitness Day — a great time for the 918,344 seniors and retirees on Medicare across Wisconsin to understand more about Obamacare and take advantage of its provisions aimed at helping seniors.
On Senior Health Day, take advantage of Obamacare.
Today is National Senior Health and Fitness Day — a great time for the 918,344 seniors and retirees on Medicare across Wisconsin to understand more about Obamacare and take advantage of its provisions aimed at helping seniors. Chances are, whether you were for or against Obamacare years ago when it was being debated, you’re probably already benefiting from it.
The law, officially known as the “Affordable Care Act” and sometimes just called health reform, requires that Medicare provide many preventive care services without a co-pay or deductible, provide drug discounts for those who hit the prescription drug “donut hole,” and actually extends the life of Medicare several years. It does this by cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse, and with that new focus on preventive health care. By diagnosing diseases earlier when they are less expensive to treat, or preventing them altogether, we can save money.
Unfortunately, statistics show Americans use preventive services at half the rate they should — but Obamacare is working to change this. You may now get your annual checkup with no co-pay or charge against your deductible. The same applies to flu shots, pneumonia shots, hepatitis B shots, bone mass measurements and diabetes, cholesterol, and other cardiovascular screenings. Many cancer screenings — including Pap smears, mammograms and tests for colorectal cancer — are also included.
Seniors who hit the prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap are eligible for a 50 percent discount on brand name prescription drugs (14 percent on generics). Wisconsin seniors saved over $37.9 million last year from these discounts, an average of $639 per eligible senior.
This is important because over half of Medicare enrollees made less than $22,000 in 2010, and they generally spend a disproportionate share of their income on health care. This means that Obamacare’s drug discounts and free preventive services mean even more to Medicare enrollees as a percentage of their income.
Some politicians want to repeal Obamacare, though, including its drug discounts and free preventive services, and many of them keep spreading the myth that Obamacare will cut benefits for Medicare enrollees. It doesn’t. When you hear that, you should know these politicians are playing fast and loose with the facts. The so-called “cuts” they talk about are from cutting waste and fraud. In fact, just recently because of Obamacare, the federal government was able to suspend payments to 52 health care providers suspected of committing fraud.
Our organization has toured the state doing forums for seniors about these new benefits. And while there’s still a lot of confusion, many are coming to understand Obamacare’s benefits. If you’re interested, there is also additional information available at www.healthcare.gov. There you can check for more on the parts of Obamacare related to seniors as well as those impacting yours kids and grandkids that haven’t reached their golden years yet.
In the meantime this National Senior Health and Fitness Day, I encourage you to take advantage of Obamacare’s benefits!
Leon Burzynski is President of the WI Alliance for Retired Americans, a nonprofit organization representing over 103,000 Wisconsin retirees. For more, visit www.wisconsinara.org.