Starting in 2020, thanks in part to the passing of The 2018 CHRONIC Care Act, many of the medical assistance needs elders may require as they age have been resolved. Medicare Advantage Plans (only) will now cover meals, grab bars, wheelchair ramps, in-home health care, remote telephonic health care (no more slugging off to a doctors office when you have the flu or other contagious diseases) and other ailments, just to name a few.
“Such services will be crucial in allowing Medicare beneficiaries to stay in their homes as they age as opposed to requiring institutional care.”
Details of the CHRONIC Care Act
Among other things, the law does the following:
- Gives Medicare Advantage plans more flexibility so they can now cover “non-medical” benefits like bathroom grab bars and wheelchair ramps for the chronically ill
- Makes more telehealth services (providing health care remotely through electronic means) available for Medicare Advantage members
- Expands telehealth services for people having stroke symptoms, regardless of their geographic area
- Provides kidney disease patients with more access to home dialysis through telehealth
- Establishes a new program in which certain Accountable Care Organizations (groups of health care providers or hospitals who provide coordinated care to Medicare patients) can pay patients to come in for primary care appointments, up to $20 per visit
- Promotes better coordination of services for people in Special Needs Plans (Medicare Advantage plans for people with particular diseases or characteristics) who also receive Medicaid
One of the biggest and greatest improvements to Medicare (IMHO) is we will be getting help in the home care department now. No more forgoing our wealth just to qualify for Medicaid nursing homes. We can hold onto our dignity AND our money and still get qualified health care in the comfort and dignity of our own home.
Getting Care at Home
Another group to benefit from the new law: people enrolled in an Independence at Home program, a project of the Affordable Care Act. Such programs, will have doctors and nurses provide house calls for the chronically ill, disabled and in turn will improve care and cut costs.
The program has proven in its early phases to be very successful, not just in its economic performance but really improving the lives of older adults. It has also helped their circle of caregivers, who bear the burden of caring for their serious needs, he added.
Independence at Home saved Medicare a total of $7,821,374, an average of $746 per beneficiary, in its second year. On average, patients had fewer hospital re-admissions and used inpatient hospital and emergency room services less for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, pneumonia and urinary tract infection.
The CHRONIC Care Act has come to us retirees, just in time IMHO. According to this Nextgov report (click here) more and more Americans are remaining in their homes and refusing to move regardless of the costs or savings.
Mobility in the United States has fallen to record lows. In 1985, nearly 20 percent of Americans had changed their residence within the preceding 12 months, but by 2018, fewer than ten percent had. That’s the lowest level since 1948, when the Census Bureau first started tracking mobility.
A significant reason for the decline in mobility is that many of us are highly attached to our towns. Nearly half of those in the survey (47 percent) identify as rooted. Their reasons for not moving are more psychological than economic: proximity to family and friends, and their involvement in the local community or church.
It turns out that the personal costs of moving—and leaving family members, loved ones, and friends behind—are quite high. According to the study, the average American perceives not moving as worth a sacrifice of more than 100 percent of income.
Nearly half of Americans are rooted in the communities, willing to sacrifice substantial income and opportunity to be around people and places they love. It is of no use to tell them to abandon their community ties when the costs to their well-being are so high. This is a critical, and all too often overlooked, dimension of our geographic divide.
So, if you’re a retiree, who is happy aging in place in your own home, there’s good news to be had. Next round of Open Medicare Enrollment, sign up for an Advantage Plan and many of your Aging In Place needs will be met. First thing I’m getting is a decorative grab bar for my jacuzzi.
Life is good. And it just got better!