Health Reform to Have Big Impact on Seniors in 2011


Health Reform to Have Big Impact on Seniors in 2011

Monday, January 3rd, 2011 - 16:19
Monday, January 3, 2011 - 14:47
Seniors will receive tangible benefits from health reform this year. Could the benefits change the way the demographic feels about the health law?

Now that it's 2011, senior citizens have much to look forward to when it comes to the implementation of health reform. The most significant development is the partial closing of the so-called "doughnut hole" in the Medicare prescription drug plan.

According to Kaiser Health News, the prescription drug costs for a typical Medicare recipient could go down by about $700 this year, as drug companies provide a 50 percent discount on brand drugs to seniors who find themselves in the hole. Estimates show that about 4 million Medicare beneficiaries will face the gap this year.

The health reform law is also increasing reimbursements for primary care under Medicare by 10 percent this year, which should improve seniors' access to primary care physicians.

However, higher-income seniors will begin to see their premiums increase this year, while the quarter of Medicare recipients who have the Medicare Advantage plan provided by private companies may begin to see some of their ancillary benefits get dropped. Significant reductions probably won't occur until after this year.

Opinion polls have consistently shown that seniors are the demographic that is the most opposed to -- and has the least understanding of -- health reform. Many seniors will see significant, concrete benefits starting this year, so it will be interesting to see whether opposition to health reform among seniors decreases and begins to shift overall public opinion more definitively in favor of the law.