According to data in two new reports issued February 15 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), an estimated combined total of 86 million Americans have benefited in 2011 from the free preventive healthcare coverage provided under both private insurance policies and Medicare as required by the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”), which some call “Obamacare.”
In a news release issued by HHS on February 15, 2012, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that “the Affordable Care Act provided approximately 54 million Americans with at least one new free preventive service in 2011 through their private health insurance plans.” The HHS Secretary also announced that “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.”
“Together, this means an estimated 86 million Americans were helped by health reform’s prevention coverage improvements” during 2011, according to the HHS release. The new data were released in two new reports from HHS.
Preventive Health Services That Are Now Available Free due to Affordable Care Act
“Americans of all ages can now get the preventive services they need, like mammograms and the new Annual Wellness Visit, free of charge, as a result of the new health care law,” Secretary Sebelius said. “With more people taking advantage of these benefits, more lives can be saved, and costly and often burdensome diseases can be prevented or caught earlier.”
The Affordable Care Act requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing or co-pays for preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults. The law also makes preventive services free for most people on Medicare.
Information on the types of preventive healthcare services that the Affordable Care Act made available to an insured person free of cost-sharing under private insurance policies is provided on HealthCare.gov, a website maintained by HHS. The site also provides a Fact Sheet entitled, “Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Care Act.”
Information on free preventive services available to Medicare beneficiaries is found at the Medicare Preventive Services page of HealthCare.gov. Information on the improvements that the Affordable Care Act made to Medicare’s preventive services is found in a Fact Sheet on HealthCare.gov, as well as a Fact Sheet provided by AARP, entitled “Improvements to Medicare’s Preventive Services under Health Reform.”
The New Reports Issued by HHS
The new HHS report on expanded preventive benefits in private health insurance is available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/PreventiveServices/ib.shtml or in a PDF Format.
The new report on expanded preventive benefits in Medicare and other ways that the Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare, entitled “The Affordable Care Act: Strengthening Medicare in 2011,” is available via the CMS website (PDF Format).
The new HHS report on private health insurance coverage also provided data on the expansion of free preventive services in minority populations. The results showed that an estimated 6.1 million Latinos, 5.5 million Blacks, 2.7 million Asian Americans and 300,000 Native Americans with private insurance received expanded preventive benefits coverage in 2011 as a result of the new health care law, HHS reported.
“The report discussing Medicare preventive services found that more than 25.7 million Americans in traditional Medicare received free preventive services in 2011,” HHS said. “The report also looked at Medicare Advantage plans and found that 9.3 million Americans – 97 percent of those in individual Medicare Advantage plans – were enrolled in a plan that offered free preventive services. Assuming that people in Medicare Advantage plans utilized preventive services at the same rate as those with traditional Medicare, an estimated 32.5 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of prevention with no cost sharing,” HHS reported.
See the News Release issued by HHS on February 15, 2012 about the two new HHS reports on expanded free preventive healthcare services under the Affordable Care Act.
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