With the confirmation of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), diverse elders may have more questions than ever about the future of the Affordable Care Act. The Diverse Elders Coalition will make protecting healthcare access a priority in the coming months, and as we learn more about the fate of the ACA, we will communicate that on our blog and social media.
In the meantime, here are some questions and answers about the Affordable Care Act and where things stand right now. If you have additional questions, please reach out to the health navigators at www.healthcare.gov or contact us.
Q: If I am enrolled in a Healthcare.gov insurance plan for 2017, can I count on that coverage?
A: Yes, your coverage will be valid through 2017. Your insurance plan through the Marketplace is a contract signed with an insurance company that cannot be repealed, and the terms of the contract are valid for the calendar year after you’ve paid your first premium.
Q: Will financial subsidies still be available for 2017 Marketplace coverage?
A: The advanced premium tax credits which are used to lower monthly premiums have already been set for the calendar year 2017. Should the law be repealed, any new tax regulations would potentially be set for calendar year 2018. Your financial subsidies for 2017 will not likely change.
Q: I get my coverage through my state’s website site instead of Healthcare.gov. Do any changes on the Federal level impact my state’s plan?
A: Yes. If you lose the federal subsidy, your health coverage may potentially no longer be affordable.
Q: I get Medicaid through the ACA. Will this coverage be affected?
A: Yes. Medicaid expansion – a key feature of the Affordable Care Act that brought Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans, many of them uninsured – is one component of the ACA that could be repealed. Individual states would stand to lose the federal funding they need to keep their Medicaid expansion.
Q: Can American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) continue to enroll in plans on the Marketplace?
A: Yes, AI/AN individuals who are members of federally-recognized tribes can continue to enroll in a Marketplace plan at any time of year. Visit https://www.healthcare.gov/american-indians-alaska-natives/coverage/ for more information or to get started!
Q: How would an ACA repeal impact Medicare and prescription drug costs?
A: The ACA helped people with Medicare by closing the Medicare “donut hole” and providing free preventive services. According to Justice in Aging, a repeal of the ACA would mean that 9 million seniors and people with disabilities would face higher prescription drugs costs. It is so important that we speak up and ask our legislators to Protect Our Care!
Q: Nondiscrimination protections in healthcare are essential to diverse elders. What happens to those protections if the ACA is repealed?
A: The administration is leaning toward keeping those nondiscrimination protections in place, even if other parts of the ACA is repealed. But, for now, the law is still in place. If you experience discrimination while seeking care, you should contact the HHS Office of Civil Rights. You can even contact them anonymously.
Q: If changes are made to the ACA, how will I learn of them? Will there be assistance available to help me work through these changes?
A: If changes happen, HHS will be communicating them to consumers through their website and social media. We want you to know what is happening! If you have questions about Marketplace coverage, contact Healthcare.gov. If you have questions about Medicaid, call your state Medicaid office. Keep your eye on the HHS Twitter and Facebook pages.
The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA), a Diverse Elders Coalition member, has a Helpline available to provide assistance with Medicare and Social Security in four languages. Learn more here.
And as always, stay tuned to the Diverse Elders Coalition blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages to stay up to date on changes that impact older adults of color, LGBT older adults, and American Indian/Alaska Native older adults!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.