Monday, March 22, 2010

Health care law: Seniors will benefit from narrowing of Part D Doughnut Hole

Check this MSNBC report on (by Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News KHN) how the new health care bill affects seniors. Some key points are a complicated mechanism to close the “doughnut hole” in Part D (involving subsidies for discounts amont other things), a rolling back of some “luxury benefits” under Medicare Advantage, and preventive screenings (including colonoscopies) for free. Actually, the doughnut hole will shrink slightly right at the outset, and a free annual physical for preventive care will be offered every year on Medicare, not just when starting -- that's supposed to save money, but it could lead to more angioplasties and "emergency corornary bypass surgeries" of the Dave Letterman "zipperclub" variety. The link is (web url) here.

Some of the changes for everyone, such as the pre-existing condition discrimination ban, don’t take effect fully until 2014, with some high risk pool mechanisms in place soon. And small businesses may have some assistance in buying health care for employees soon, well before the mandate in 2014.

Seniors should still press the issue of assistance for homebound services for the elderly, which apparently is being debated outside this health care bill.

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