As we near the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is a good time to stop and look at how the ACA has affected health care in the U.S. and New Jersey so far. Millions of people have benefited already and many more millions will benefit as the provisions of the law continue to be implemented. People over 50 are benefiting in many ways and will benefit even more in the future, which is why AARP strongly supported the passage of the ACA.
Nearly all of NJ’s 1.4 million Medicare recipients now receive free annual well visits so that they and their doctors can ensure that any problems are caught early, when it is easier and frequently less expensive to treat them. Further, these folks are also now entitled to free screening tests, such as colonoscopies and mammograms, which can greatly aid in avoiding unnecessary illness and suffering while helping to reduce the ever-rising costs of health care. In fact, nearly 45,000 New Jerseyans have already received an annual wellness visit this year.
And of course Medicare recipients now pay much less for their prescriptions when they reach the donut hole, since the ACA is gradually eliminating it. This year, Medicare recipients will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs and a 14 percent discount on generics while in the donut hole. And over time, these benefits will grow, so that starting in 2020 the donut hole will have disappeared entirely. This means that no longer will seniors have to pay premiums for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program, while having to pay the full cost of their drugs at the same time, as they had to do before the ACA was passed into law.
People over 55 who retire early, and are ineligible for Medicare, are now more likely to find that their former employers will continue to provide health insurance for them and their families, since the ACA provides funds to help pay the premiums in these cases.
Finally, Americans of all ages who are not covered by large group insurance plans, will greatly benefit from the availability of more affordable insurance plans when the new Exchanges are implemented starting in 2014. It is important to note that all of the policies sold on these Exchanges will be from private insurance companies; the ACA does not create any new government-provided insurance plans. The Exchanges will use the competitive power of the market to lower costs.
As President of AARP New Jersey, I am proud to support the Affordable Care Act, which is doing so much for all Americans, including New Jerseyans, and which will actually provide even more benefits in the future.
AARP New Jersey State President
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