Affordable Care Act Attempts to Make Aging More Affordable

Most seniors will tell you that the ‘Golden Years’ are far from golden. Aging bodies bring a slew of aches, pains and health issues to older Americans. Most seniors worry about how they can afford to pay for their healthcare as they age.

The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, has made some provisions to help our aging citizens afford the cost of their healthcare. For those seniors who qualify for Medicare, new rules have been rolled out that could mean the difference between healthy aging and bankruptcy.

Reduced Cost of Prescription Drugs

In the past, seniors were required to spend $4,550 a year for their own prescriptions before Medicare part D kicked in. Beginning in 2013, however, this practice changed. Now, seniors can receive a 50 percent discount on all brand name medications and a 20 percent discount on all generic medications. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that this has saved seniors an average of $866 a year since the rule was implemented.

By 2020, the plan is for seniors to pay a $310 deductible and then receive a 25 percent discount on all prescription medicines after that. When seniors have been faced with the high cost of their prescriptions in the past, many have chosen to stop taking their medications or have taken less of them. This has endangered the health and well-being of numerous seniors and will hopefully be eliminated with the new rules.

Better Care after Hospital Discharge

U.S. News and World Report states that one out of every five Medicare patients is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of their discharge. There has been extreme pressure in the past to get patients out of the hospital as quickly as possible, due to the high cost of being there. Although this trend is not likely to disappear anytime soon, the new rules strive to improve post-hospital care to prevent readmission. One way of doing this is connecting the patient to services available in their community, such as Meals on Wheels and other volunteer-driven services that can help them maintain independence and health at home.

Part of this provision will mean that nursing homes will begin accepting more patients for temporary acute care while they heal from the illness or injury that sent them to the hospital. Some nursing homes may even begin offering some home health care services.

Protections for Residents of Nursing Homes

If you must choose to send your loved one to a nursing home, the new rules promise increased transparency and consumer protection. The Nursing Home Compare site, run by CMS, tells you how much is spent on resident care versus salaries and how many complaints exist against that certain nursing home. Each state is required to have a process established to allow complaints to be made easily. If the nursing home your loved one is in would have to close for some reason, the new rule states that all residents must be relocated before the closure.


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