Free preventive services for 25 million on Medicare

Dec. 31, 2013 at 11:28 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- More than 25 million on traditional Medicare received free preventive services such as no co-payment or deductible for a mammogram, U.S. officials say.

A report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said more than 25.4 million people covered by original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them during the first 11 months of 2013, because of the Affordable Care Act.

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said this report comes after last month's announcement that showed the healthcare law also saved seniors $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs since the law's enactment in 2010.

"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," Tavenner said in a statement.

"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 well-being of millions of beneficiaries who have taken advantage of preventive services and wellness visits."

In the first 11 months of this year, more than 3.5 million beneficiaries with original Medicare took advantage of the annual wellness visit established by the Affordable Care Act -- a significant increase from the 2.8 million who used this service by this point in the year in 2012.

Data for those using Medicare Advantage instead of traditional Medicare is not yet available.

Before the Affordable Care Act, Medicare recipients had to pay part of the cost for many preventive health services. Studies showed these out-of-pocket costs made it difficult for many to get preventive care. For example, before the Affordable Care Act, a person with Medicare could pay as much as $160 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, Tavenner said.

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