Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What You Need to Know About the New Health Law: Your Medicare Questions Answered

We know the federal health law is big and confusing. Some parts of the new law started immediately. Others will roll out over the next 10 years. Texas physicians have carefully studied the Affordable Care Act so we can help you understand what the changes mean to you.

On a regular basis we will answer questions Texas patients have asked or provide information you need to know. Please feel free to submit your questions about the new law at Me&MyDoctor.

What If I’m on Medicare?

Q. Will it be easier for seniors to find a doctor?

A. No. In fact, the new law did nothing to fix a 10-year old problem in Medicare. That problem is forcing doctors to limit the number of Medicare patients we see or even to quit taking Medicare patients. Doctors are asking Congress to fix the problem so we can continue to care for our patients.

Q. Will seniors get preventive services?

A. Medicare now covers the entire cost of checkups and recommended screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms. Medicare patients do not have to pay any copay or deductible for these services.

Q. Does the new law affect the cost of prescriptions?

A. The new law helps seniors on Medicare (Part D) prescription-drug plans. Seniors who fall into the coverage gap, called “the doughnut hole,” get a $250 rebate to help pay for their drugs this year. The doughnut hole occurs because Part D stops paying for prescriptions after the first $2,830 in costs each year. Seniors must then pay all drug costs up to $6,440. Then, Part D pays again. Next year, seniors also get a 50-percent discount on brand-name drugs. By 2020, the doughnut hole will completely go away.

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