Medicare and healthcare reform- What you need to know

We’ve put together the following guide to answer common questions about Medicare and healthcare reform. Use the guide to separate fact from fiction on how The Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) impacts Medicare.

If you qualify for Medicare, here are three things you need to know:

  1. Healthcare reform marketplaces, also called exchanges, have nothing to do with Medicare. They’re for people under age 65 who don’t qualify for Medicare.
  2. Healthcare reform doesn’t affect the enrollment process for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
  3. Medicare’s open enrollment period will still run from Oct. 15 – Dec. 7. That’s the time when you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan or select a different plan.

    Don’t confuse the healthcare reform marketplace or exchange open enrollment period from Oct. 1– March 31 with Medicare open enrollment. Both begin in October, but the marketplaces or exchanges are not for people with Medicare.

Here are some answers to common questions about Medicare and healthcare reform

Q: What is healthcare reform?

A: Healthcare reform, in general, refers to the Affordable Care Act, a federal law that – among other things – provides access to health insurance coverage for people not eligible for Medicare.

Q: What do I need to know about marketplaces, also called exchanges?

A: Healthcare reform marketplaces or exchanges have nothing to do with Medicare. The law creates new marketplaces or exchanges to help people under age 65 and small businesses shop for health insurance. You may hear a lot about marketplaces or exchanges this fall.

Health insurance companies and federal and state governments will advertise to let people know about them because the marketplace or exchange open enrollment period also starts in October. This doesn’t affect people with Medicare.

Q: Is my Medicare coverage in danger?

A: No. Medicare coverage is protected.

Q: I’ve heard about a tax penalty if I don’t buy coverage. Do I have to worry about that?

A: No. If you have Medicare coverage, this penalty doesn’t affect you.

Q: When can I enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan?

A: Medicare’s annual open enrollment period runs Oct. 15 – Dec. 7.

Q: Do I have to re-enroll in my Medicare Advantage, supplement plan or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan through the healthcare reform marketplace or exchange?

A: No. The marketplaces or exchanges are not for people with Medicare.

Q: Where can I find a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement plan?

A: Through www.medicare.gov or directly through health insurance companies that offer those plans. Please note that Medicare Supplement plans are not subject to the same annual enrollment period limitations.

Q: Does the Affordable Care Act affect the cost of my prescriptions?

A: You could save money on prescription drugs if covered by a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage. The law slowly closes the “donut hole” coverage gap.

In 2014, when you reach the donut hole, you’ll receive a deep discount on Part D-covered brand-name drugs. You’ll also save on generics. These discounts are applied automatically at the pharmacy counter – you do not have to do anything to get them.

Q: Will my doctor continue to accept Medicare under the Affordable Care Act?

A: It would be best to talk directly to your doctor.

Q: How can I tell if I have a good Medicare Advantage plan?

A: The Federal Medicare agency has a “5-Star” quality rating system for Medicare Advantage plans. You can use the star rating to check your plan’s performance. The rating system gives insurance companies a strong incentive to improve your care. Check your plan’s rating at www.medicare.gov.

Download this free guide to Medicare and healthcare reform.

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