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Better Benefits, Better Health for Seniors

Dr. Donald Berwick, Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, discusses the benefits senior citizens have seen and will continue to see under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

On the second day of the Better Benefits, Better Health initiative, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the important benefits seniors can receive. If you're over sixty-five, you are eligible for important new benefits thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

People on Medicare are now eligible to obtain certain preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies for free. Click here to find a list of preventive services that will be covered. Seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare can also get an annual wellness exam from their participating physician or health professional for free.  Please speak with your doctor for more details.

Through provisions of the Affordable Care Act, nearly 4 million people with Medicare who reached the program’s Part D coverage gap known as the “donut hole” in 2010 have received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check.

And, now, if you fall into the donut hole, you will receive a 50% discount on covered brand name prescription drugs and lower costs for generic drugs. Already, nearly 48,000 Medicare enrollees have saved $38 million -- an average of $800 per person – thanks to this provision in the new law. You don't need to take any action to receive this benefit.

In addition to these savings, you may be able to receive care from health teams that will coordinate your care so if you see multiple doctors, you can be more confident that they are working together seamlessly.  (Your doctor may refer to this as an “Accountable Care Organization” or “ACO.”)  For more information, ask your doctors if they're part of a team of providers or have otherwise taken advantage of Medicare's options to promote patient-centered care.

And finally, if you're enrolled in traditional Medicare, the changes from the law could save you more than $3,500 in health care expenses over the next 10 years.

For more information on Seniors and the Affordable Care Act, visit, or go to

You can also download a Better Benefits, Better Health flyer here.

Dr. Donald Berwick is the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.