Healthcare Series

What does the Affordable Care Act mean for aging Americans?

CREATED Dec 11, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Marquette Law Professor Alison Barnes has studied the health law and she says there are three main groups of aging Americans that will be effected by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act: those nearing retirement, those on Medicare, and those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.  

First those approaching retirement.  
Barnes says those people have sometimes had a tough go of it, "If they lose their job they've been in touch shape in an insurance market that has exclusions for preexisting conditions and it's hard to shop for insurance."
But Obamacare offers a new option for this group to get coverage through the marketplace.  It may cost a little more, but it is available.  
When it comes to people already on Medicare, Barnes says the changes are modest.
"You get more preventive care.  It's free, it's usually a 20% co-pay.  You get brand name drugs for a discount, 50% if you're in that doughnut hole."  
But Medicare is NOT a part of the ACA so if you are on Medicare you do not need to sign up for coverage through the individual exchange.  
Many states are also providing extra assistance for people considered "dually eligible" for Medicare and Medicaid.  That provision is being called the Medicaid expansion.  
In Wisconsin, Barnes says thing are different.  "Governor Walker rejected that Medicaid expansion in very significant part and even wants to roll back some of the eligibility under Medicaid for people with incomes between 100% and 200% of federal poverty level."
Barnes says it's still uncertain how much of that can be done.