If you’re a senior citizen or a primary caregiver of a senior who relies on Medicaid and Medicare coverage, don’t ignore what the Republicans and President Donald Trump have proposed in their health care plan. There’s a lot at stake.
Here’s the bill, if you don’t trust news reports and want to read it yourself. (Good luck with that!) The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation’s version of the proposed law is simpler to read. Based on my experience with elder care and other caregivers caught between raising a family and caring for a elderly or disabled parent, here’s a quick synopsis of the financial dangers I believe many families will face.
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- Seniors will pay for prescription drug coverage with. Currently, seniors benefit from a provision in Obamacare that uses savings from hospitals and doctors payments to help eligible seniors pay for their prescription medication. President Trump has endorsed the bill, but neither Trump nor Republicans have said if seniors can continue to expect this help.
- At the least, the American Health Care Act calls for raising the age of full retirement benefits to 67, possibly 69. While you can still draw social security earlier, expect a lower monthly payment ranging from 10 to 40 percent and you still won’t quality for Medicare until 67. That means if you can’t get insurance through an employer, you’ll have to turn to state exchanges where you’ll likely pay more for it.
- Obamacare lets insurers charge older, less healthy people, up to three times more in premiums. The Republicans’ plan allows insurers to charge the oldest people on a plan up to 5 times more for premiums, if you don’t let coverage lapse. If you do, insurers can add a 30 percent surcharge. (More on that later.)
- The Republicans’ health care bill offers tax credits to help people pay for insurance. But the $4,000 tax credit for an eligible person 60 years and older is nearly half the $9,900 currently offered under Obamacare.
- Although the Republicans’ proposed law doesn’t let people deny coverage to folks with pre-existing conditions, it assesses a penalty by letting insurers charge an additional 30 percent of the insurance premium if you don’t have coverage for more than 2 months. So if you don’t quality for Medicare and don’t have access to employer insurance, you’re at greater risk for being uninsured even if you quality for a tax credit but still can’t afford health care coverage.
- The Republicans’ health care plan cuts Medicaid funding to states. If your family relies on Medicaid to help pay for a senior or disabled parent’s nursing home care or at-home care expenses, expect some decrease in aide or service. Your state may even make it harder to qualify for Medicaid benefits. The children of seniors who can’t afford the care will have to pick up the slack, if they can afford it. Some may even have to quick their jobs or work fewer hours.