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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Respecting Our Elders: The Affordable Care Act's Steps Forward for Seniors

This blog is cross-posted from the National Council of La Raza.
By: Jennifer Ng'andu, Deputy Director, Health Policy Project, National Council of La Raza

The Affordable Care Act turns two this Friday. The law is still fairly new, but some of the most significant progress during its infancy was made on behalf of America's elders.

The Medicare program's latest additions-a direct result of the Affordable Care Act-are designed to bolster access to high-quality health care, create efficiency in how the program serves seniors, and reduce health care costs. Now, Medicare's seniors can access dozens of free preventive care services and obtain a free annual wellness exam.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has chosen to profile the senior community today. Throughout the law's anniversary week, HHS will continue to highlight the rules and benefits that have already been put into place for many different communities that stand to gain from health care. You can access those resources here. Check out the first profile below.

These critical prevention benefits were among a set of program changes that, for the first time in history, give seniors the ability to establish a health care plan that meets their needs, instead of just using Medicare for the treatment of an illness or health condition. The services may be especially meaningful for many in the Latino senior community who often join the program after a lifetime without health insurance, and who are more likely to rely on Social Security benefits as their sole source of income in retirement.

Want more information on Hispanic seniors and the Medicare program? Check out NCLR's most recent statistical brief on Medicare, which offers state-by-state details on Latino enrollment in the program.

  • Did you know that about 3.5 million Latinos access the Medicare program?
  • Did you know that about one in four Hispanics on Medicare is also enrolled in the Medicaid program?
  • Did you know that nearly half of disabled Hispanics use Medicare?