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Medicare became law on July 30, 1965 under the leadership of former President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was designed to provide people age 65 and older with U.S. federal government issued health insurance without regard to income and medical history. This coverage is one thing that is guaranteed in life. A concern for many senior citizens is whether or not Medicare, which offers hospital insurance, medical services and prescription-drug coverage, will change under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

First, know that you are still covered under Medicare and do not need to sign up for health insurance coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Be sure to visit www.medicare.gov between now and December 7 to review and update your coverage. Then sit back and take a deep breath knowing that in 2014, Medicare coverage under President Barrack Obama?s health care reform should provide enhanced services.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, new benefits will be offered to Medicare-insured seniors, including free yearly wellness exams, no-cost prevention screenings (ie, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, cholesterol, and hypertension) and cessation counseling services. What?s more, for seniors who receive prescription-drug coverage, the so-called ?donut hole,? or gap in coverage, will finally start to shrink. This means lower prescription drug costs, with complete elimination of this gap set to take effect in 2020.

However, there is one downside. Seniors who opt for Medicare Advantage plans from a private insurance company may see decreased coverage in 2014. While incentives are being offered under the Affordable Care Act to insurance companies who improve Medicare plans, the new health care reform has affixed less Medicare payments to these plans. As such, many private health insurers will increase their costs to patients and some may even elect to eliminate certain benefits, such as preventive and elective dental services.

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