The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), known informally as Obamacare, is designed to completely overhaul the American healthcare system.

While it continues to be discussed and debated, its changes are going into effect, and its programs are already aiding patients who are suffering from dementia and other degenerative conditions.

Insurance And Medicare Availability

The PPACA will help many current and future dementia patients by making healthcare more widely available and more affordable, especially for senior citizens. As a starting point, the United States Department of Health and Human Services recently launched a new website specifically dedicated to helping individuals find health insurance options in their communities.

In addition, the PPACA began to implement a series of discounts and benefits designed to aid those who may otherwise be without assistance. Some of the most relevant to dementia patients include:

  • An annual “wellness visit," beginning in 2011, that acts as a preventative service through Medicare. Every Medicare beneficiary will be the recipient of an annual checkup, that could help detect and analyze any progressive cognitive impairment.
  • The “coverage gap" that once plagued individuals under the Medicare prescription drug program, will be eliminated entirely by 2020. In the meantime, any senior citizen who reaches the gap (in which Medicare stops paying part of the cost of prescription drugs), will receive $250 in rebates.
  • A transitional care program, still in development, will aid elderly patients who are liable to reenter a hospital, including those with cognitive impairment.

Care Quality And Effectiveness

The PPACA also aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of many healthcare programs, by strengthening resources and facilitating extra training. One of the new programs mandates that nurse aides (in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities) undergo a specific dementia management training program. Complementing this, the facilities themselves must go through a training and certification program, designed to ensure the best care is given on an individual basis.

For years, most diseases have a specific set of “quality care indicators." These are a set of peer-approved best practices for giving treatment to patients with a specific disease. Unfortunately, despite its prevalence, Alzheimer's disease is not a condition with a set of quality care indicators. The PPACA is implementing a process by which all conditions without quality care indicators are identified and addressed.

Geriatric education centers will also be granted new federal funding. As long as these centers help improve the community by offering at least two low-cost courses annually to family caregivers, they will receive the incentive. These courses will include effective management of psychological and behavioral symptoms of dementia.

PPACA Looks Promising For Dementia Patients

The PPACA will continue to improve the healthcare system for all American medical patients, especially the elderly with dementia. While educational programs, quality of care and the affordability of insurance coverage are all being improved, another, more forward-facing aspect of the PPACA is helping drive the possibility of fuller recovery.

The PPACA-created Cures Acceleration Network, devoted to developing effective cures for conditions such as dementia, may one day yield a discovery making long-term treatment of dementia unnecessary.