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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Medicare Part D Points to a Popular Future for Affordable Care Act

Jon-Michael Basile

Staff Writer

When President George W. Bush passed the Medicare Part D act in 2003, its launch raised some technological problems that left consumers frustrated. Now, most American seniors view their prescription drug coverage as invaluable and support this once-controversial legislation.

Enacted to subsidize increasingly high out-of-pocket costs, Medicare Part D makes prescription drug coverage affordable for its beneficiaries. But in the months following its inception, the media criticized virtually every aspect of the federal program.

In November 2005, The Washington Post referred to its three-week delayed launch as “anything but smooth.” Two weeks after the delayed launch, a Minneapolis Star Tribune article with the headline, “A Rocky Rollout for Medicare Part D,” offered its insight and reported that “elderly consumers [were] fuming over its complexity and federal websites [were] crashing under heavy traffic.”

Not surprisingly, few people signed up for Part D before coverage began in January 2006. But as the technical problems were resolved, enrollment numbers surged. Today, enrolling for Medicare Part D runs smoothly and is an integral part of our health care system. While there’s always room for improvement, 97 percent of Part D beneficiaries say their coverage works well, according to a study KRC Researched conducted in September 2013.

Similar to a less-than-perfect start for Medicare Part D, the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment process faces challenges. But we look forward to seeing the great strides it will make in our country and how it will positively affect millions of Americans.

The Affordable Care Act is more than a website—it’s a piece of legislation signed in 2010 that promises great benefits to Americans at any age or health status.

  • It allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26.
  • It prohibits insurers from discriminating against women and those with pre-existing conditions.
  • It requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care services (and give out rebates if they don’t).

Some people are worried about the technological glitches, but it’s important to remember that this is just the beginning. Americans can still buy health insurance until December 15 to have coverage that starts on January 1, and even after that, people can still sign up through March 31

As the President stated last week, “If one thing is worth the wait, it’s the safety and security of health care that you can afford … by buying health insurance through the marketplaces.”

We agree it’s worth the wait.