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Health Care Reform & You

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— Andersen Ross/Getty Images

Whether you are on Medicare, get insurance through your employer, buy it on your own, or are uninsured – the new health care reform law affects YOU. AARP is here to help you find out what you need to know to make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

Are you completely lost and not sure where to start? The AARP Bulletin lists the top ten things you need to know, now.

Are you wondering how the new law will impact the Commonwealth’s landmark health reform? Who must have insurance? Will your taxes go up? How will new law impact your doctor? AARP has the answers, and is working to help educate Massachusetts residents about the new law and how it will benefit them.

Are you one of the more than one million Massachusetts residents who rely on Medicare? The new health care reform law guarantees that existing, basic Medicare benefits will not change, for both traditional Medicare and private Medicare Advantage. The law also protects retiree health coverage, changes compensation to Medicare Advantage plans so they are paid the same rate as traditional Medicare, and makes important improvements to preventative services and prescription drug coverage.

Are you one of the 300,000 Bay State seniors facing the Medicare prescription drug “Doughnut Hole”? In June, Massachusetts seniors in Medicare who have fallen into the dreaded prescription drug doughnut hole began automatically receiving $250 rebate checks to help with their drug costs and other expenses, as part of the health reform law. Learn more.

Are you receiving health coverage through your employer? Bottom line: You can keep the health plan you now have. And, starting this September, all new health plans must provide preventative services and screening for free, and insurance companies can no longer place lifetime limits on what they will pay for your care; annual limits will be eliminated in 2014.

Are you a small business owner? This year, businesses with fewer than 25 full-time workers who earn an average annual salary of $50,000 or less per year will get an immediate tax credit of up to 35 percent on the premiums they pay for employees’ health coverage. Further, starting in 2011, small businesses can use government grants for up to five years to establish wellness programs.

Are you thinking about long-term care insurance? The CLASS Independence Benefit Plan, a new type of voluntary long-term care insurance, will help individuals remain in their homes if they become disabled or sick. The program will pay cash benefits to assist with the cost of non-medical services and supports such as home modification, assistive technology, transportation and personal care.

Are you concerned about health care fraud? You should definitely be cautious. Scam artists have hit the streets trying to take advantage of any confusion surrounding the new health care law.

Are you interested in key improvements to health insurance practices? One of the most significant changes: Insurance companies will no longer be able to drop someone’s health coverage because he or she has a pre-existing condition or requires medical care.

Get the Facts about Health Reform

Read a timeline of when changes are scheduled to begin. To learn more – or ask your own questions – please visit our web page devoted to providing information about the health care reform law. To receive a free informational brochure, “How the New Health Care Law Benefits You (D19272),” call AARP Massachusetts at 1-866-448-3621 or email ma@aarp.org.

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