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Medicare and the new health care law

Medicare and the new health care law

The new federal health care law, the Affordable Care Act, includes many new benefits intended to make health care better and more affordable. A key part of the law aims to strengthen Medicare.

Among the changes:

  • You will not have to pay anything out of pocket for your annual wellness exam. Medicare already pays 100 percent of some preventive care, such as flu shots, mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, and osteoporosis screenings.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, high-need Medicare patients will have access to expanded basic health care services in their homes, rather than going into the hospital.
  • The Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) tax rate will increase for taxpayers who make more than $200,000 per year and couples who make more than $250,000, from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent.
  • Income thresholds for the Medicare Part B and Part D income-related premium ($85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples) will be frozen at 2010 levels through 2019.
  • The "donut hole" coverage gap in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program will be closed by 2020. Then, once your deductible is met, you will be responsible for paying only 25 percent of the cost of covered prescription drugs until you reach the yearly out-of-pocket spending limit.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act's impact on Medicare, visit http://www.medicare.gov/about-us/affordable-care-act/affordable-care-act.html. If you know people who need health insurance, send them to bcbstx.com for information on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas plans available under the new health care law.