Educating Seniors: Bring Your Health… Home

By Kimberly Harmon RN, BSN

OBAMA HEALTHCARE REFORM 1Medicare and the New Health Care Law: Four Things Seniors Need to Know

Many people ~ especially seniors ~ remain confused about the impact of “Obamacare,” the sweeping health care law enacted last March by President Obama. The largest reform of health care in 40 years, the breadth and depth of new law is challenging to understand. I’ve read it over the past few months and this column features a summary of the most salient points.

Most importantly, the column below explains what the care providers at the Auburn VNA and I believe are the five most important things you need to know about the new law as it pertains specifically to Medicare.

But first, here’s why I’m convinced the law is good for seniors:

• It will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care.

• It will ensure much-needed accountability throughout the health care system so that you, your family, and your health care provider (not insurance companies) have more control over your care.

• Your guaranteed Medicare benefits won’t change, whether you get them through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.
• The Elder Justice Act (included in the new law) will help prevent and combat elder abuse and neglect.

• It creates a new voluntary insurance program called CLASS to help pay for long-term care and support at home.

I’m also pleased that the new law helps individuals with pre-existing conditions. For example, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage for children due to a pre-existing condition starting next September and for adults in 2014. Insurance companies will also be banned from establishing lifetime limits on your coverage.

Here are four improvements in Medicare you’ll see immediately:

1. Your existing guaranteed Medicare-covered benefits won’t be reduced or taken away. Neither will your ability to choose your own doctor.

2. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage and have to pay for your drugs in the donut hole, this year you’ll get a one-time, tax free $250 rebate from Medicare to help pay for your prescriptions.

3. Starting this year, if you have high prescription drug costs that put you in the donut hole, you’ll get a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs while you’re in the donut hole. Until 2020, you’ll get continuous Medicare coverage for your prescription drugs.

4. Starting this year, Medicare will cover certain preventive services without charging you the Part B coinsurance or deductible. You’ll also be offered a free annual wellness exam.

As always, the Auburn VNA Healthcare Team is available for your health and wellness needs with a complete range of home care services. For more information or questions, please call us at 508-791-0081. Be happy, be well and be safe!

Kimberly Harmon is President and CEO of the Auburn Visiting Nurse Association. The Auburn VNA provides more than 19,000 home visits annually to more than 700 individuals in Auburn, Worcester and surrounding towns. Kim welcomes your questions, comments or concerns about any specific health issues. You may reach her at or 508-791-0081.

Special thanks to Bruce Mendelsohn,, who can be reached at

Photo: President Barack Obama signs into law the Affordable Health Care for America Act, Tuesday, March 23, 2010.

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