AARP Explaining Confusion Over Medicare, Affordable Care Act

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CORALVILLE, Iowa - For those 65 and older, and on Medicare, the battle with Obamacare and a balky website shouldn't matter. The new health care law, also known as the Affordable Care Act, does not change how eligible seniors enroll or receive the benefits of Medicare.

But there's a lot of confusion about that and efforts to get the right information out have gone on for months.

The Iowa chapter of AARP has conducted about 30 informational programs this year to explain both Medicare and the individual insurance market place and exchange.

Two sessions took place on Wednesday at the Coralville Public Library.

Anthony Carroll, Iowa AARP Associate State Director, said whenever he begins a talk this year the first thing he says to anyone over age 65 is the same.

That is, if you're on Medicare, don't get caught up in the ongoing Affordable Care Act drama. It doesn't apply to you.

"It's understandable there's talk about open enrollment going on for people over 65 and under 65. So there's understandable confusion," Carroll said.

Those on Medicare Advantage plans can sign up or make changes in coverage for next year anytime until December 7th. That happens every year.

But nearly all the sign up talk going on now involves Obamacare. Carroll said he's spending more time this year explaining the difference and while some at the Coralville session knew the difference already, some said they came to make sure they knew the difference.

Pat Machado, who's on Medicare now, said "I was aware I shouldn't sign up for it. But there's a lot of confusion out there."

To add a bit to the confusion, some parts of the Affordable Care Act do make some changes in Medicare coverage. Carroll said there are some changes in benefits and reduction in out-of-pocket cost for some drug coverage. But the enrollment methods stay the same.

That means no senior on Medicare needs to fight the frustration of the website. Richard Walton said that's just fine with him.

"I'll just sit back and watch the trauma unfurl--both for the government and those impacted," he said.
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