For most beneficiaries, the answer is no. In fact, some benefits will improve. The infamous gap in prescription drug coverage known as the "doughnut hole" will gradually fade away. Co-payments and deductibles will be eliminated for most preventive care, like physical exams, vaccines, and many routine tests. And beneficiaries will be entitled to one free "wellness" visit with their doctor each year. One exception is for those who enroll in private Medicare Advantage plans. They may see fewer extras like gym memberships, because the law reduces some subsidies for the plans. But their basic health benefits, like everyone else's, will remain the same.


Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. is a professor of law at the Earle Mack School of Law and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health at Drexel University. He also writes for The Field Clinic blog.