Jul 29, 2011

Five Things People with Medicare Should Know

By Don Berwick, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Cross-post from Healthcare.gov
Do you have Medicare? Have questions about what the Affordable Care Act does for you?
Here are the five things people with Medicare should know about the law:
1. It makes prescription drugs more affordable.
If you enter the coverage gap known as the “donut hole,” you will receive a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs. This discount will be automatically applied at the counter of your pharmacy; you don’t have to do anything to get it. And over the next ten years, you will get additional savings until the coverage gap is completely closed in 2020.
If you have Medicare, you can get free preventive screenings and services like colorectal cancer screening and mammograms. You can also get a free yearly wellness visit to develop and update your personal prevention plan based on current health needs. Again, these services are free: no co-pays or cost-sharing for you.
3. It provides incentives for your doctors to work together for you.

The law makes it easier for your doctors to work together by offering them support and resources for patient-centered care.  If you’re hospitalized, the new law also helps you return home successfully—and avoid going back—by helping to coordinate your care and connecting you to services and support in your community.
4. It strengthens Medicare Advantage.

If you have Medicare Advantage, you will be protected from large increases to your premiums or decreases in your benefits.  Medicare reviews changes to your plan before they happen to stop the ones that are unreasonable. Beginning in 2012, Medicare Advantage plans will have even more reason to improve the quality of care you receive.  Plans that have a rating of three stars or more on the quality rating system will receive a bonus, part of the national effort to improve quality.
5. It helps ensure your access to care.

You can still choose your doctor. The law increases the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and physician assistants to provide better access to care through expanded training opportunities, student loan forgiveness, and bonus payments. Support for community health centers will increase, allowing them to serve some 20 million new patients.