Medicare is what comes to the minds of people when they think about health care coverage for older adults. But after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became a reality, most people turned towards Medicaid. Now it has a massive role in the way the US population pays for its health care services. This act enabled Medicaid to became available to a broader community. Today, even those with an annual income up to 138% of the federal poverty level are eligible for Medicaid care. The result is that more and more seniors with a low income and without insurance can afford health care coverage.
Why Is This Expansion Significant to Seniors?
According to statistics, Medicaid now covers 4.6 million seniors. Almost all of them are also covered by Medicare. This coverage is essential because old age is closely related to poverty. Those seniors whose health care insurance is covered by Medicare often encounter out-of-pocket expenses. That can put a lot of pressure on their standard of living, especially when they live on a fixed budget.
Having double health care coverage (both Medicaid and Medicare), helps seniors benefit from the advantages that come with both systems. Basically, it allows them to spend less overall. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare studied people that had already started using Medicare. They would save around $5,000 in the next ten years because of the health reform that introduced Medicare.
Furthermore, insurance that is advertised on television and that attracts older adults doesn’t always cover all of the parts of health care services that are essential for the elderly to have independence and a quality lifestyle. One of the best examples is the need for bathing, dressing, and preparing meals. The elderly need these on a daily basis, but they are often not covered by commercial insurance. Seniors who are in grave need of help with these suffer from physical or cognitive decline. If not covered by health care, these elderly adults could face severe consequences that could even result in their death.
To put it plainly, Medicaid fills the gaps that are left behind Medicare. Those gaps are precisely what has the most significant effect on those with low income. Because seniors have full access to both of these, they can afford to be a part of their communities longer. That can only do good for their overall well-being. Those seniors that have less unplanned costs can spend more on their basic needs.
What If the Medicaid Expansion Is Repealed?
Some politicians are concerned about the effect the ACA will have on programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. Because of their worries, they are proposing for Medicaid to be partially or even fully repealed. The program is currently in expansion. A repeal wouldn’t only affect those that are already using it but those that are planning on starting.
This scenario, which seems unimaginable, might happen. If it does, it will be a catastrophe for millions. There are 14 million people who have been using Medicaid since 2013 that would be left without health care coverage. Of those, 5 million are older adults. In the next ten years, this would mean a loss of $900 billion by state Medicaid programs.
If the ACA’s Medicaid expansion doesn’t continue, millions of older adults with low income will be at risk. It is essential to persuade lawmakers Medicaid is significant for both seniors currently using it and those about to start. Federal and state budgets need to be kept under control but without taking cuts from health care coverage.
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