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Affordable Care Act for Seniors: Benefits Without Obligations

PHOTO: A new report from the Center for Rural Affairs says the Affordable Care Act has led to more health benefits for senior citizens, without any real additional requirements. Photo credit: Aberdeen Proving Ground
PHOTO: A new report from the Center for Rural Affairs says the Affordable Care Act has led to more health benefits for senior citizens, without any real additional requirements. Photo credit: Aberdeen Proving Ground
December 17, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – With the rollout of the health care marketplaces, some senior citizens are raising concerns about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

But a recent report by the Center for Rural Affairs shows that for many seniors, it has led to more benefits – without additional obligations.

Author Jon Bailey, director of research and analysis at the Center, says most of the provisions that directly affect seniors have been in effect since 2010, and they center on enhanced benefits – such as preventive care and treatment.

"More support for purchasing prescription drugs, some wellness and health benefits for senior citizens,” he points out. “So, most of the effects of the Affordable Care Act on senior citizens are positive, without any real requirement that they do much different than they're doing now."

Bailey adds these added benefits are especially important in rural areas, where the population is older and residents generally receive fewer medical screenings and preventive-care procedures.

As far as the laws just coming online, such as the requirement that everyone has health insurance, Bailey says seniors really aren't impacted because they have Medicare.

"Medicare meets that mandate, so they're set,” he explains. “They're covered. They don't have to worry about going on to the healthcare.gov website or any of the other state-based marketplaces.

“And so, they don't have to worry. As long as they're getting Medicare, they're set."

Bailey says that despite early warnings about the ACA's impact on Medicare Advantage plans, rather than declining, the number of seniors enrolling actually is greater than estimates.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT