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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 9, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas - With the rough roll-out of the health care marketplaces, some senior citizens are raising concerns about the Affordable Care Act. But a new report has found that, for them, it has led to more benefits - without more obligations.

Report author Jon Bailey, director, rural public policy program, Center for Rural Affairs, said most of the provisions that directly affect seniors have been in place since 2010, and they center around enhanced benefits in terms of preventive care and treatment.

"There's more support for purchasing prescription drugs, and some wellness and health benefits for senior citizens. 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 explained.

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, he added.

As far as the laws just coming online, such as the requirement that everyone must have health insurance, Bailey said they don't really affect seniors, because they have Medicare.

"Medicare meets that mandate, so they're set. 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," he said. "They don't have to worry - as long as they're getting Medicare, they're set."

Bailey added that despite early warnings about the ACA's impact on Medicare Advantage plans, rather than declining, the number of seniors enrolling is actually greater than was estimated. The study, "Seniors and the Affordable Care Act," is on the Center for Rural Affairs website, www.cfra.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX