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For Baby Boomers, Affordable Care Act Holds Health Care Bonus

The biggest gains for baby boomers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will come in 2014 when everyone will have access to comprehensive health insurance through a substantial expansion in Medicaid and the creation of private, subsidized health insurance exchanges, a report says. But two lesser-known provisions in the bill will kick in earlier that will benefit employers, current employees and early retirees.

All told, 18.3 million men and women ages 18 to 64 will benefit from provisions in the ACA , according to a new report released by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that studies health policy reform and a high-performance health system.

Some of them are already taking advantage of provisions in the act, including the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) for employers.  The program helps public and private sector employers pay for health benefits for employees who retire take early retirement before age 65.

Applicants who are approved to participate in the program receive reinsurance for the claims of high-cost retirees and their families. The funds can be used to provide premium relief and other health care cost relief to retirees and workers and their families, to offset increases in their own health care premiums or costs, or a combination of these uses.

This $5 billion temporary program has already enrolled 3,600 employers and will run through 2014, the Commonwealth Fund said in its report, when people who retire before age 65 will be eligible to purchase health insurance through the new insurance exchanges .

Scheduled to go into effect in January, the ACA’s Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program will provide employers and their workers — as well as self-employed workers — the option of participating in a national long-term care insurance program that is designed to provide better access to affordable long-term care insurance.

Based on a sliding scale that takes into consideration age and salary, the program will allow workers to have an average of between $150 and $240 a month   deducted from their paycheck to save for long-term care. Younger workers will be charged less, while older workers will be charged more. Actual deductions will take place in 2012.

After a five-year vesting period, enrollees who require help with bathing, eating or dressing will be eligible to use their benefits, which are estimated to be around $75 a day for in-home care.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.