Local agency weighs in on ACA
The planned start of the Affordable Care Act has no affect on the benefits of those enrolled in Medicare, according to Northumberland County's administrator of Area Agency on Aging.
Referred to some as "Obamacare," ACA was scheduled to allow the start today of the sale of health insurance options to the uninsured through the Health Insurance Marketplace. This has no bearing on those with Medicare, and it's illegal for someone to knowingly sell a marketplace plan to a Medicare enrollee.
People may get visitors at their door regarding health insurance, or perhaps phone calls. Patricia Rumberger, Area Agency on Aging administrator, warned county residents against providing their Medicare information.
"My biggest concern from an Aging standpoint is when people with Medicare are getting calls from someone through an insurance agency saying they want to help them out," said Patricia Rumberger, administrator of Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging. "They have medicare. They don't need to sign up for a different insurance plan."
They should be wary of fraud, she said, but not at the potential impact ACA could have on existing benefits. She believes some people fear ACA and the continued political slap fighting on Capitol Hill on the topic could result in the loss of their Social Security, veterans benefits and food stamps.
Cries of a potential government shutdown rang loudest Monday as the midnight federal budget deadline approached, with ACA being tossed about as the biggest bartering chip, and the biggest roadblock, to compromise between Democrats and Republicans.
"None of that is true," she said of feared loss of benefits. "Even if the government shuts down it's not going to stop."
Further adding to confusion is an overlap of enrollment periods. The scheduled open enrollment period for ACA was to begin today and end March 31, 2014. Medicare enrollment is open from Oct. 15 until Dec. 7.
If a Medicare enrollee wants help to review and update their existing plan, Area Agency on Aging can help. Call 570-644-4545.
Anyone seeking information on ACA and potential enrollment are being directed to a federal website, www.healthcare.gov, and a toll-free hotline, 1-800-318-2596.
There are many other outlets to turn to for answers, including Geisinger Health System's Trusted Advisor website. It launched Monday at www.geisinger.org/reform. There's a toll-free hotline as well, 1-855-849-1510.
Geisinger Health Plan has its own ACA-related site at www.thehealthplan.com/reform/.
Any of the above sites can help explain the details of ACA and the Marketplace.