With looming deadlines of October 15, for Medicare’s traditional open enrollment date, and the overlap of the first enrollment period for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act set to start on October 1 – December 7, has caused a lot of confusion among seniors over their coverage.
Adding to the confusion is the increased media frenzy reporting of the state exchanges for individuals 65 and under, and insurance companies offering coverage to both the new exchanges and to Medicare recipients.
Federal health officials have stepped up the efforts to let seniors know they have nothing to worry about and that the Medicare benefits are not changing under the Affordable Care Act. They want Medicare recipients to know that the enrollment period of Oct 15th – Dec. 7th, will be business as usual and seniors will be able to sign up to new plans by continuing to go to Medicare.gov.
Federal health officials have ramped up their call centers, training for Medicare counselors and website. This is in preparation to the influx of calls they will be receiving in October, in anticipation of the 50 million Medicare beneficiaries who will be mailed a handbook with a prominent Q&A, stressing their benefits aren't changing. Calls are already being rerouted to Medicare call center from the state exchanges call centers, said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Worries still linger within the senior community despite federal efforts to stem down the confusion. Under the Affordable Care Act, seniors will not be able to purchase Medicare supplemental insurance or Part D drug plans through the state exchanges. This is what worries seniors such as, 72 year old Bob Roza who actively attended meetings in order to find out what ACA was and how it would affect him and his 69 year old wife with diabetes.
Roza, who underwent hip replacement this year, now worries how the ACA will affect his $614 monthly fee and his Medicare supplemental insurance, in spite of his Medicare coverage.
Advocacy groups have also taken an interest on the matter. They feel the federal health officials have put most of its efforts on those who already are on Medicare and have not done enough outreach to inform seniors without Medicare, said Jodi Reid, executive director of the California Alliance for Retired Americans. She feels that advocacy groups have picked up the tab and are using the majority of their advertising dollars to inform seniors affected by the exchange. Her group has put together a one-page fact sheet to educate nearly 1 million California seniors.
Officials of the AARP said they are organizing several events around the country, hosting 21 telephone town halls to clarify questions to seniors who are either Medicare or Non Medicare recipients.
As the Affordable Care Act inches closer, advocates are warning seniors not to give any personal information. To watch out for scams that may surface alongside legitimate Affordable Care Act outreach.
Please give us your feedback!
Do you feel there is still a tough job ahead to inform seniors about what the Affordable Care Act is and how it impacts Medicare? Do you believe all the outreach efforts from advocates and federal health officials will help millions of uninsured people to sign up for coverage by the end of March or will just stir more confusion?
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