Expert says some seniors are confused about Medicare, Affordable Care Act

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by Lucy Bustamante, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on October 16, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 6:00 PM

HAMPTON ROADS -- The new healthcare law is a massive undertaking, and health insurance industry leaders tell 13News Now they're hearing from a lot of medicare recipients who are trying to buy into the new health care plan and say they are confused.

In fact, Ehealth Medicare polled a thousand of its customers age 60 and over and found that 45 percent think they can switch to the Metallic Plan in the healthcare marketplace.

According to the Centers for Medicare Services, Virginia has just over a 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries; North Carolina has just over one point five million beneficiaries.

Right now, in the city of Norfolk, the average Medicare plan costs from $0 to no more than a $100 a month.  Those people will not be able to opt out of Medicare because it's considered affordable insurance.  That means the yearly cost of health insurance can not cost any more than 9.5 percent of your income per year.

"It's a huge communication challenge to let seniors know that Medicare is separate from the Affordable Care Act and if you're enrolled in Medicare the rules haven't changed. It's the same enrollment period. The same options to shop around and things like that," Ehealth Medicare director Nate Purpura says. "Medicare on a whole is less expensive than the plans that are being offered in the exchange. Absolutely."

According to Ehealth statistics, the city of Norfolk has 14 Medicare plans and 30 supplemental plans for prescription coverage.

"Original Medicare Parts A & B typically cost a person about $100. During the enrollment period you have an option to add a Medicare Advantage Plan which includes prescription drug benefits," Purpura said. "That will usually add another $0- $80 dollars a month, depending on your income level."

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