ACA: What It Means for the Elderly Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare) on the elderly

Obamacare: Its impact upon the elderly

The impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (often called 'Obamacare') upon America is often discussed by politicians as if it had a uniform impact upon all citizens. However, the ACA's effects have been relatively disparate, depending upon the nature of the population. This paper will specifically focus upon the impact of the ACA on the elderly of a variety of socio-economic categories.

One of the criticisms of the American healthcare system before the passage of the ACA was the spiraling cost of entitlement programs such as Medicare, the federally-provided health insurance program for seniors. "One good result of all this [ACA] is that the burden of Medicare for taxpayers in future years has been drastically lowered. In fact, the day Barack Obama signed the ACA into law he cut the long-term unfunded liability of Medicare more than in half" (Goodman 2014). However, the ACA accomplishes its cost-cutting objective by imposing a cap on Medicare spending, including reimbursements to physicians that take such patients (and Medicare already reimbursed physicians at a far lower rate than private insurance). "One bad result is that that Medicare beneficiaries are likely to be pushed into a second tier health care system -- where access to care will become increasingly difficult, as seniors less financially attractive to providers become Medicaid patients" (Goodman 2014). For seniors reliant upon Medicare and Medicaid as their primary sources of healthcare -- not private insurance -- some argue that this could compromise the care they receive.

Others counter that the law has actually had a number of salutary effects for the elderly. For example, "in New Hampshire, Medicaid pays for in-home care for nearly all of its developmentally disabled residents. For frail elders, the opposite is true. Most wind up in nursing homes. To remedy this imbalance, New Hampshire is taking advantage of Affordable Care Act funding for a program aimed at removing existing barriers to providing long-term care in people's homes and communities" (Vestal 2014). For patients who are released from the hospital, the Community Care Transitions Program (CCTP), "helps high-risk Medicare beneficiaries prevent readmissions by connecting them to services in their communities, such as a home health agency, an Area Agency on Aging or an Aging and Disability Resource Center" rather than going to a nursing home (Leonard 2014). Most elderly patients prefer to remain in their home settings as long as possible and research indicates that their long-term outcomes are better when elderly patients are allowed to do so. The law provides additional provisions to file complaints about nursing homes and greater transparency about the records of quality control at nursing homes (Leonard 2014).

To further enhance the chances of seniors taking advantage of preventive care, the ACA contains incentives for the elderly to see their healthcare providers on a more frequent basis. "Under the health law, Medicare provides yearly wellness visits, which allow seniors to consult with their doctor and agree on a personalized plan to stay healthy" (Leonard 2014). Medicare recipients will not have to 'go on the healthcare exchange' to buy their healthcare plans (their reliance upon this federally-provided insurance program will not change) but they will still receive additional services as a result of the law. They will also have expanded access to a number of other preventative services that they did not previously, including, according to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) report on the benefits of the ACA: "flu shots, tobacco cessation counseling, as well as no-cost screenings for cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases…Because of the ACA, over 37 million seniors have received at least one of these preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs in 2013."

On average, seniors take more prescription drugs than any other segment of the population. Ensuring that seniors have access to costly but potentially life-saving drugs was another impetus behind the passage of the ACA. "Medicare Part D, or the portion that covers prescription drugs, is administered by private health insurance companies on behalf of the federal government. Before health care reform many seniors entered the 'doughnut hole,' or a gap in which they were responsible for all costs of their prescription drugs until they spent a total of $4,550 for the year" (Leonard 2014). As a result of the law seniors now receive "a 50%…

Sources Used in Document:

References

ACA. http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights / Accessed November 6, 2014.

FAQ: What retirees and seniors need to know about the ACA? NPR. October 11, 2013.

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/11/231101137/faq-what-retirees-and-seniors-need-to-know-about-the-affordable-care-act Accessed November 6, 2014.

Goodman, John. What seniors have to fear from Obamacare? Forbes. October 28, 2014.

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