Health Care Reform - How Does It Affect Senior Citizens?

Quite rightly, a great deal of our senior citizens are going to be worried about what the effects of the new health care reform bill are. It's true that seniors often use the health care system a lot more often than most young people do, and so they probably have a bigger interest than most. The frightening thing is, for any senior citizen with a fixed income, there is going to be little room for maneuver in their budgets should the cost of health care rise.

So is the new health care reform bill brought about by Barack Obama going to have any direct affects on senior citizens? The answer is "yes".

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However, there are also a lot of complications to this answer, and whether the new affects are good or bad for you will depend much on your individual circumstances.

Let's take a look at some of the specifics concerning older citizens:

Cuts in Medicare

One of the biggest changes that we'll see is that under the new bill, the federal governments regular payments to the Medicare Advantage program are set to be cut over the next 10 years by 2 billion. This has been justified by the government who say that people under these plans typically receive more from the government than those who are under regular Medicare receive.

It's true that there are often additional benefits on offer to seniors in a Medicare Advantage program, which aren't available to seniors under a traditional Medicare program. It's likely that there extra benefits will be cut from Medicare Advantage plans once these new cuts are felt.

This reduction is to be phased in during the next 3 years in most states, beginning in 2011, though there are a few states where this will take more time.

The new healthcare reform bill doesn't introduce any cuts to the traditional Medicare program however. Despite this pledge though, Medicare contributions towards home healthcare are set to be cut by billion from 2011 until 2019, and there will also be reductions in payments to hospitals over the same period, totaling billion.

Enhancements to Medicare

Medicare's existing prescription medicine's benefit is set to be bolstered by the new bill however, as it addresses its "donut hole" problem.

As it stands now, a senior citizen who spends up to 00 on medicines is covered. However, once passed that mark, coverage stops. If that same person manages to spend up to ,154 on medicine, coverage will begin again, hence the nickname "donut hole".

Starting now in 2010, anyone who falls in this donut hole will be eligible for 0 aid from the government. Afterwards, the bill states that the US government will make annual increases to the amount of medicinal costs it will pay for anyone who falls in this "donut hole". By the year 2020, the government will pay for 75% of medicine costs for senior citizens who fall into this ,700 to ,154 gap. As well as this, annual Wellness visits by senior citizens are set to be provided for by Medicare.

Medicare Payments Board

The new healthcare reform bill will also see the establishment of an Independent Payment Advisory Board for Medicare, one that is made up of 15 members. It's principal task is to submit ideas and proposals for legislation in order to cut the per capita spending of Medicare, if this spending starts growing too fast and becomes unsustainable.

The "Too fast" designation will be defined as anything that exceeds the Consumer Price Index's growth rate during a 5 years period ending in 2013.

If this happens, then the board will meet in 2014 to discuss and submit proposals to be considered by the House of Congress and the US president.

Many critics have claimed that this board will be the tool for future Medicare reductions. Some of the legislative wording in the new bill states that the Independent Payments Advisory Board is prohibited from proposing an idea that would raise taxes, ration care or alter benefits.

Health Care Reform - How Does It Affect Senior Citizens?

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