How the Affordable Care Act Applies To Over-50s

Regardless of which party wins the 2012 elections, there are likely to be big changes in health care expenditures over the coming year that will have serious implications for Americans over 50. These changes will affect the administration of the existing Medicare program, as well as the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was passed in 2010.

The ACA is a series of provisions, designed to be implemented in phases between 2010 and 2014. The biggest change the ACA embodies is the requirement that nearly all Americans by health insurance by 2014 or face fines.

The ACA and Medicare

The law has already had a significant affect on the prices of procedures and products offered under Medicare.

  • The ACA reduces the amount of money that Medicare Part D can charge for drugs.
  • The ACA expands the number of preventive healthcare services available to Medicare patients.

What about patients who are over 50, but not old enough to qualify for Medicare?

The ACA will affect health insurance for this demographic group in four significant ways:

  • The ACA will make it easier for people over 50 to get health insurance
  • The ACA will make health insurance for people over 50 more affordable
  • The ACA will make employer-subsidized health care plans more efficient
  • The ACA will allow parents over 50 to provide health care insurance for offspring up to the age of 26

Making Health Insurance More Accessible To Over-50s

The ACA mandates that insurers must sell health insurance to anyone who applies. They can no longer deny policies covering health care on the basis pre-existing health conditions.

Depending upon the definition of “pre-existing condition” used the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that between 32 and 86 percent of all Americans over the age of 45 have a pre-existing health condition. (See image The ACA will guarantee these Americans access to health insurance should they lose their existing insurance.

Making Health Insurance More Affordable To Over-50s

The ACA contains provisions that restrict the ability of insurers to charge higher premiums based on age or pre-existing health conditions. The ACA also allows individual states to set up insurance exchanges where people can shop for insurance that is partly or wholly subsidized by the government. This will also significantly reduce the cost of health care insurance to seniors.

ACA-Mandated Efficiencies

The ACA requires that all employer-subsidized health insurance plans spend at least 80 percent of their premiums on actual services. If they do not do so, they will be required to refund part of that money.

Coverage of Offspring Through Age 26

Parents of non-dependent children can continue carrying their children on existing health care policies until their children are 26 years old. This was one of the earliest provisions of the law to go into effect. It has proved to be such a popular provision that when the law was under review by the Supreme Court, several insurance companies promised to keep it even if the ACA was thrown out.

About the author:

Although he spends his free time reading about finance, Frank Harrington writes about insurance on A former insurance professional, he quit to take up freelance writing, and now blogs about topics like whole life insurance comparisons.


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