According to new data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today, more than 25.4 million people covered by Original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them during the first eleven months of 2013, because of the Affordable Care Act. Today’s news comes after last month’s announcement showing that the health care law also saved seniors $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs since the law’s enactment.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of seniors have been able to receive important preventive services and screenings such as an annual wellness visit, screening mammograms and colonoscopies, and smoking cessation at no cost to them,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Prevention and early detection are so vital to ensure that Americans are healthy and Medicare is healthy. The Affordable Care Act makes Medicare stronger and improves the wellbeing of millions of beneficiaries who have taken advantage of preventive services and wellness visits.”
Today’s announcement exceeds the comparable figure from last November, when an estimated 24.7 million people with Original Medicare received one or more preventive benefits at no out of pocket costs by this point in time during 2012. When factoring in Medicare Advantage utilization rates and a full year of experience, an estimated 34.1 million people with Medicare took advantage of at least one preventive service in 2012. Moreover, in the first eleven months of 2013, more than 3.5 million beneficiaries with Original Medicare took advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit established by the health care law – a significant increase from the 2.8 million who used this service by this point in the year in 2012.
Before the Affordable Care Act, Medicare recipients had to pay part of the cost for many preventive health services. These out-of-pocket costs made it difficult for people to get the important preventive care they needed. For example, before the Affordable Care Act, a person with Medicare could pay as much as $160 in cost-sharing for a colorectal cancer screening. Today, this important screening and many others are covered at no cost to beneficiaries (with no deductible or co-pay). The Affordable Care Act helps tear down a significant barrier for some seniors to staying healthy and helps their care providers prevent, identify and treat problems early.
For state-by-state information on utilization of free preventive services for people with original Medicare, please visit: http://downloads.cms.gov/files/Preventive_Services_Utilization_by_State_Jan-Nov_2013.pdf