What seniors need to know about their Medicare coverage and Obamacare's new insurance marketplace

Medicare recipients don't need the marketplace

TAMPA - Seniors on Medicare may be feeling a little nervous now that the Affordable Healthcare Act insurance Marketplace has opened.

Cynthia Dunn is one of the 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries in Florida. She's also one of the many confused over what this new insurance marketplace means for her and her Medicare coverage.

"Is it going to reduce my out of pocket costs?  That's probably our biggest concern right now."

Cynthia is paying $128 a month for her Medicare premium, but says some of her prescriptions aren't covered and she's paying almost $500 a month for her drugs.

Should she drop Medicare and shop the exchange?

The answer is NO.

Jay Wolfson is an Associate Vice President of USF Health, and an expert on the ACA.

"Medicare is a separate qualified plan.  They do not have to worry about these Obamacare provisions for the exchanges.  The exchanges are for people who don't have Medicare, Medicaid, child health insurance coverage, veteran's benefits, Department of Defense Tri Care benefits."

Many seniors have been confused as to whether the new health law means cuts or changes to their Medicare benefits.  Some of the confusion may be because Medicare's open enrollment period overlaps with open enrollment for the uninsured to comply with Obamacare.

But here's the bottom line: The open marketplace doesn't affect Medicare recipients, but if Medicare recipients want to modify their Medicare plan they will still have to go through Medicare's open enrollment October 15th through December 7th.  That's also the time for enrollment in Medicare's Part D prescription plans.

Now, Cindy's husband is a different story.  He's retired and paying for private insurance.  He will be able to shop the marketplace and buy a private policy.

Other portions of the health care law will benefit seniors. There's a whole list of preventative services seniors can take advantage of without paying co-payments now. That's already in effect.

Another concern? The potential for scams popping up once the marketplace opens targeting seniors.

If anyone knocks on your door or calls you trying to sell marketplace insurance, hang up or call law enforcement.

There is a help line for seniors, as well as a helpline for the marketplace in general.

SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders) is a free, volunteer-based health insurance counseling program administered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. 

You can contact them at 1-800-963-5337.

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