What can you expect from the Affordable Care Act?
Opella Finley Ernest, MD, chief medical officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, says the new health care reform law, also known as the Affordable Care Act, expands health insurance, giving people more benefits, greater access and more affordable coverage for many. “An additional key part of the law is to strengthen Medicare,” she notes.
“It’s important to understand what Medicare is, how and when to enroll and what it does and does not cover,” says Dr. Ernest. “Medicare has four basic parts that, together, help with health care costs. Each part provides coverage for different types of health care services. Medicare Part A and Part B are often referred to as ‘original’ Medicare.” Dr. Ernest also points out that, ‘original’ Medicare wasn’t made to cover all medical expenses.
Enrolling in Medicare
“If you’re nearing 65, you can enroll in Medicare during the seven months of the initial enrollment period,” shares Dr. Ernest. The initial enrollment period includes the 3 months before and after your 65th birthday. In addition, Dr. Ernest says that, “for seniors who have Medicare Part D (prescription coverage), the donut hole will be eventually eliminated due the ACA”
New Law’s Benefits
“Under the new healthcare law, your guaranteed Medicare-covered benefits won’t be reduced or taken away, and the new law does not change how you select your doctor,” says Dr. Ernest. “You will be able to get a yearly wellness exam without any out-of-pocket expenses Medicare now covers certain preventive services at 100 percent.”
All Medicare topics Q&A, links, coverage and costs can be found at www.medicare.gov, as recommended by Dr. Ernest.
By Ella Huner