The Garden City Telegram
8/14/2013
SOUTHWEST LIFE

Obamacare won't impact Medicare recipients adversely

Will Obamacare end Medicare as we know it? When you consider the actual requirements of the new law, Obamacare helps seniors by providing more preventive care, like cancer screenings, vaccines (flu, pneumonia and shingles shots) and regular check-ups. The new law already reduces the "donut hole" by providing a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs and a 14 percent discount on generic drugs for Medicare recipients who hit this coverage gap. If you've ever needed chemotherapy for cancer, you've probably hit the donut hole and paid a lot for your drugs while in the hole. Obamacare will eliminate the donut hole entirely in 2020.

Will your premiums go up? Your Medicare part B premiums will not change due to the new law. Congress established a formula for determining Medicare B premiums and the new law doesn't alter that formula. AARP has predicted that the effect of Obamacare may actually result in lower Part B premiums.

Will Medicare Advantage plans disappear? Medicare Advantage plans are slated to lose some government support. These popular plans have been overpaid by approximately 9 percent over what traditional Medicare was paid per enrollee, as of 2010. This means that everyone was paying higher Part B premiums to finance overpayment of the private plans, which covered one in four beneficiaries. Obamacare has provisions that cut back on that overpayment. These plans are required by law to provide all of the same benefits that traditional Medicare provides. Therefore, they will not cut benefits that traditional Medicare offers. However, some Medicare Advantage plans may limit or reduce optional benefits such as dental or vision care. The reduction of overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans may level the playing field between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans for beneficiaries. It will continue to make sense to go confer with a SHICK counselor, or go to the Planfinder on Medicare.gov to compare plans. You may find a Medicare Advantage plan that meets your individual needs for a competitive premium, or you may find that traditional Medicare meets all of your needs. Obamacare requires Advantage plans to demonstrate that 80 to 85 percent of their revenues are going into medical treatment, rather than company profit.

Will the insurance exchanges affect your Medicare? Probably not. If they do, it will likely benefit you. States are required to have "health insurance exchanges" for uninsured individuals and small businesses to access required coverage, not Medicare. There are already a few "health insurance exchanges" for Medicare-eligible consumers. These are simply marketplaces for Medicare supplement plans, including Medicare Advantage plans. Many individual insurance agents utilize these exchanges in seeking the best Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Part D plans for their clients. If the state insurance exchanges expand to include Medicare supplement plans, that will only make it easier to find a plan that meets your needs.

The above information was provided by Gabrielle Thompson, an attorney and a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Questions about Medicare? The Senior Center of Finney County has trained Senior Health Insurance Counselors of Kansas (SHICK) who can help with your questions. Call 272-3620 to make an appointment with a SHICK counselor.

Thanks for help

Many thanks to all the volunteers who delivered Meals on Wheels last week. Are you interested in helping with Meals on Wheels? Substitute drivers are always needed. If you would like to help, call Patti at 272-3620 or 260-6282.

Scheduled activities

Thursday, the TOPS Club will meet at 9 a.m., followed by art class at 10 a.m. Gentle exercises start at 11 a.m. The Ambassador Singers practice at 1 p.m. Skip-Bo begins at 1 p.m. The Summer Pie Contest planned for today has been canceled due to scheduling conflicts. Sorry for the inconvenience. Yoga begins at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, the day begins with line dancing at 8:30 a.m. A nurse from St. Catherine Hospital will be here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge starts at 12:45 p.m.

Saturday, the pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday has duplicate bridge at 2 p.m.

Monday has double pinochle at 12:30 p.m. Duplicate bridge starts at 7 p.m.

Tuesday has walking at 8:30 a.m. Gentle exercises begin at 11 a.m. Pitch starts at 12:30 p.m. Bridge begins at 1:15 p.m.

Aug. 21 has line dancing at 8:30 a.m. TOPS 1116 meets at 10 a.m. Pinochle starts at 12:40 p.m. The regular Wednesday night dance featuring the Smokey Hill Ramblers begins at 7:30 p.m. The recommended donation is $5.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Barbecue on a bun, potato salad, creamy coleslaw, cookie.

Friday: Roast pork, sweet potatoes, Italian vegetables, frosted lime gelatin, wheat roll.

Monday: Salisbury steak, pasta salad with vegetables, tossed salad, peaches, wheat bread.

Tuesday: Hamburger, baked beans, deli fixings, blueberry dessert.

Aug. 21: Pepper steak, rice, cucumber and onions in sour cream, angel food cake with strawberries.

Celebrating 35 years at the Senior Center of Finney County. Check out our website at www.seniorcenterfc.com.