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Millions get free preventive healthcare

Feb. 15, 2012 at 5:45 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- About 86 million Americans with private health insurance or Medicare were provided with at least one preventive service last year, U.S. officials say.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced Wednesday 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.

In addition, 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, Sibelius said.

"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 healthcare law," Sebelius said in a statement. "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 to enrollees for a variety of 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 proven preventive services free for most people on Medicare, Sibelius said.

The reports are available at: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/PreventiveServices/ib.shtml and http://www.cms.gov/newsroom/.

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