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For Seniors: One Year Later, What Happened and What Didn't

This week marks the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act - a law that ensures all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care and significantly reduces long-term health care costs.  The debate on health reform was often filled with frightening--and wrong--information.  One year later, we check in on what happened and what didn't.


Reduced Drug Costs for Seniors

Seniors are now receiving a 50% discount on brand-name drugs if they enter the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole' coverage gap.  This 50% discount gets larger over time and the ‘donut hole' completely closes by 2020.  Under reform, these seniors, on average, will save more than $500 in 2011 and more than $3,000 in 2020 on their drug costs.

Free Key Preventive Services and A Free Annual Wellness Visit under Medicare

Beginning on January 1, 2011, seniors have the right to receive key life-saving preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, with no deductible and no co-payments, as well as the right to a free annual wellness visit.

Strengthened Medicare 

Reform has also strengthened Medicare and extended the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years - from 2017 to 2029.  Without reform, the Medicare Trust Fund would become insolvent in just six years. 


No Cuts in Medicare Benefits for Seniors

There have been no cuts in Medicare benefits for seniors under reform.  Reform explicitly prevents any cuts in guaranteed benefits.

No 'Death Panels' 

Decisions about an individual's health care are still being made by the individual, in consultation with their family and their doctors.  There's nothing in the health care law that has affected or will affect end-of-life decision-making.

No Loss of Access to Medicare Advantage Plans 

Opponents of reform had claimed that, under reform, many seniors would no longer have access to Medicare Advantage plans.  To the contrary, the health insurance industry predicts a five percent growth in enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans in 2011.