From a $200 card soon to be in the mail to a promise not to touch Medicare benefits, seniors have more to celebrate than most when it comes to President Trump’s America First Healthcare Plan.
The plan itself is based on three pillars: more choice, lower cost, and better care. Each of these pillars is designed to improve the healthcare options available for seniors today.
The plan calls to continue expanding access to telemedicine, especially for older patients. Trump already expanded Medicare earlier this year to allow seniors more telemedicine options. It’s critical for seniors to have this choice, now more than ever, since it allows them to receive continuous care for chronic conditions from the safety and comfort of their home.
And seniors are embracing it. Before the pandemic, most people 65 and up had never received healthcare by telemedicine. In fact, only 10% of Medicare eligible seniors reported using telemedicine prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Once they became familiar with telemedicine during the pandemic, 43% of Medicare eligible seniors took the opportunity to receive routine care, update prescriptions and more with medical appointments conducted virtually.
Although most seniors are covered by Medicare, they’re still vulnerable to high prescription drug prices and surprise billing. The America First Healthcare plan seeks to end these rising out-of-pocket costs in several ways.
Remember those pre-loaded cards I mentioned? Trump is providing 33 million seniors with a $200 card that will be sent in the mail over the next few weeks. The money is intended to help them cover out of pocket costs for prescription medications.
In addition, Trump recently signed four executive orders designed to bring down the costs of prescription drugs. The executive orders allow safe importation of drugs and specifically works with Medicare to ensure that we are able to buy prescription medications for the same price as peer countries with similar economies.
When it comes to surprise billing, Trump has ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct administrative action to put an end to the practice, assuming Congress doesn’t act on the issue by December 31. That means taking action to prevent hospitals from hitting patients with outrageous, and unanticipated, bills at the end of their visits.
Additionally, starting in 2021, hospitals and insurers will be required to post prices for common procedures so that consumers can know how much to expect to pay before receiving care from a hospital.
Trump is especially in favor of using technology to improve care for seniors. He plans to put them in control of their own medical records so that they can easily transfer information between multiple doctors. For my parents, electronic medical records will be an important time saver.
After my dad’s recent fall, he went through a series of CT scans at an urgent care facility and at the hospital. But getting a timely second opinion was extremely difficult because of his scattered medical records. If his records had been more easily accessible, as Trump’s plan proposes, it would have been all that much quicker to get my father the help he needed.
Older Americans are often the ones accessing our healthcare system the most. Hopefully, the common-sense reforms outlined in Trump’s healthcare plan will make it easier for them to get the care they need.
Jan Dubauskas is a healthcare expert, enthusiastic insurance pro, attorney and mom serving as vice president of healthinsurance.com.
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