Each day, more and more Americans are taking advantage of the new free preventive services provided through the health care law. People of all ages can now get the preventive services they need, like mammograms and the new Annual Wellness Visit, free of charge. With more people taking advantage of these benefits, more lives can be saved, and costly, and often burdensome, chronic diseases can be prevented or caught earlier.
A new report shows that approximately 54 million Americans were provided with at least one new free preventive service in 2011 through their private health insurance plans, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And an estimated 32.5 million people with Medicare received at least one free preventive benefit in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit, since the health reform law was enacted in 2010.
Together, this means an estimated 86 million Americans have already been helped by the health care law’s prevention coverage improvements.
What’s more, many minority populations are also receiving expanded preventive benefits as a result of the law, including an estimated 6.1 million Latinos, 5.5 million Blacks, 2.7 million Asian Americans and 300,000 Native Americans with private insurance. These benefits are particularly important for these Americans who often see higher rates of disease and reduced access to care. Better access to preventive services can help reduce these health disparities.
The law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colon cancer screenings, Pap smears and mammograms, well-child visits, and flu shots.
The law also makes proven preventive services free for most people on Medicare. These services include a yearly wellness visit, tobacco use cessation counseling, and a range of no-cost screenings for cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. In total, an estimated 32.5 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of prevention with no cost sharing.
The full report on expanded preventive benefits in private health insurance is available here.