The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) improve program benefits, clarify enrollment rules, eliminate coverage gaps, and strengthen the program for the estimated 64.5 million Americans who have Medicare health care coverage. These changes to Medicare provide important protections and strengthen the program, but navigating the changes can be complicated. To help the aging and disability networks who are fielding questions and making sure that the people they serve are aware of these changes, this blog post provides an overview of the changes that are most important for older adults and people with disabilities to be aware of. For people who need additional help, ACL’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers one-on-one assistance, counseling, and education to Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to help them make informed decisions about their care and benefits.
CAA Medicare Provisions
The CAA revised key Medicare enrollment rules and timelines for coverage to become effective. It also extended limited eligibility to cover immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients under age 65.
Key Medicare Enrollment Rules
Most people (88%) qualify for Medicare when they celebrate their 65th birthday. The remaining 12% qualify due to disability.
Most people who qualify based on age need to enroll in Medicare when they turn 65, even if they have other health insurance. People can defer enrollment in a few situations. For example, if they (or their spouse) are still working for an employer that has 20 or more employees and have health insurance through that employer, they can wait to enroll in Medicare until they are not.
People who do not apply when they are first eligible usually have to wait until the next open enrollment period to get coverage. In addition, most will have to pay higher premiums — forever — if they enroll late.
People who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits (or Railroad Retirement benefits) are automatically enrolled in Medicare when they become eligible, but everyone else needs to apply. Unfortunately, many people do not understand this, or mistakenly believe they qualify for delayed enrollment, and they do not enroll when they should.
Read the full article from the Administration for Community Living.