(CNN) Along with noisemakers, hangovers and second-tier bowl games, the new year rolls in changes to health insurance rules that stand to save Americans – especially those over age 65 – a lot of money in 2011. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – “Obamacare,” to critics – was signed into law in March but was built to take effect in stages. Several key provisions take effect on Saturday.
The most prominent change will shrink the so-called “doughnut hole.” Up to now, seniors hit the doughnut hole once they and their insurer have purchased $2,800 worth of medications. The next chunk – up to a $4,550 out-of-pocket maximum – cannot be reimbursed by insurance. Under the ACA, the gap will be closed in increments over the next 10 years. It starts Saturday; in 2011 Medicare will pick up half the cost of brand-name medications for patients in the dreaded doughnut hole.
(CNN) – Meghan McCain was on the talk-show couch, being grilled by the hosts of "The View." Does it bother her to hear jokes about her father's age? Megan, 23, started chuckling, and allowed, "He IS old!" Tension was replaced by laughter. But that was summer. These days, for Republican Sen. John McCain, age is no laughing matter.
Watch: Is McCain fit to be president?
Age as political issue has become a reality the McCain campaign does indeed have to face. McCain turned 72 in August, which would make him the oldest man to begin a first term as president - three years older than Ronald Reagan.
Clips of McCain making supposed age-related gaffes circulate on the Internet. Last month, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat and a supporter of Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, said McCain's age and skin cancer history were fair game as a campaign issue. "We're talking about a reality here that we have to face."
All this skates over the fact that McCain already allowed reporters a peek at eight years worth of health records, dating back to 2000, while Obama has released a one-page summary from his doctor. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said it's a double standard. "The arbiters of this election are not demanding the same level of disclosure about Sen. Obama. He's essentially running on a doctor's note. I had a harder time getting out of high school math class."