Obamacare’s Impact On Michigan Seniors

Obamacare has influenced major changes in the United States’ health care system, especially in Medicare.

By Chris Berry

Recently the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) updated its Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollment estimates, projecting a major increase in seniors who will be enrolled in MA plans by 2023. With conflicting enrollment projections, MA is left with mixed signals regarding its future. It remains to be seen how Obamacare’s significant reductions will affect MA plans and how beneficiaries will react to potential changes to MA plans.

(Related: Obamacare’s Impact on Medicare Advantage)

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), through Obamacare, provides news powers for additional cuts in Medicare. IPAB is made up of 15 unelected bureaucrats who must meet a newly created Medicare spending target. In the event that spending surpasses the target, the board must make recommendations to Congress that will rein in spending.

The ability to cut physicians reimbursement rates is the only major tool available to IPAB that could reduce Medicare spending. For the first time since 2016, the trustees project that Medicare spending will surpass the target spending level. Mostly as a result of constantly-increasing government regulations and uncertainty of reimbursement, doctors are departing from the Medicare program.

(Related: Medicare Advantage Increases Popularity Despite Obamacare Cuts)

 Information was released from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that 9,539 physicians who had accepted Medicare opted out of the program in 2012, a major leap from the 3,700 who dropped out in 2009.

Because Obamacare gradually lowers seniors’ out-of-pocket costs in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, commonly knows as the “donut hole,” it will raise the cost of the Part D benefit, a portion of which will be passed along to the beneficiaries.

According to the CBO, “enacting those changes would lead to an average increase in premiums for Part D beneficiaries of about 4 percent in 2011, rising to about 9 percent in 2019.” Of the 48.6 million Medicare enrollees in 2011, just 3.6 million actually fell into the category of the donut hole.

(Related: Obamacare and Long-Term Care Insurance)

This average premium increase means a lot considering how few seniors actually fall into the gap. While the average premiums of all Part D beneficiaries will increase, of the 48.6 million Medicare enrollees in 2011, only 3.6 million actually fell into the donut hole.

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