Millions of seniors receive free preventive services

As part of the Affordable Care Act, some Medicare benefits have been expanded. One way the new healthcare law has improved Medicare is by providing free preventive services to all seniors. In addition to saving seniors millions on prescription drug plans, the changes in the new law will potentially save the healthcare industry money in the long run and allow seniors better access to care. The announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid comes only a month after it was revealed that the Affordable Care Act saved seniors $8.9 billion on prescription drug plans.

Preventive services
In the first 11 months of 2013, 25.4 million seniors with Original Medicare have had access to preventive services for free. In the past, Medicare beneficiaries would have been required to make copays or coinsurance for preventive care services that can detect diseases early on. Preventive services could help reduce healthcare costs in the coming years by catching diseases and illnesses early before they develop and make people sick.

"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 Marilyn Tavenner, an administrator with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

Medicare beneficiaries
The December report from the CMS reveals that more Americans are being impacted positively by the healthcare changes. In November, it was estimated that the law would only impact 24.7 million Medicare recipients.

"Prevention and early detection are so vital to ensure that Americans are healthy and Medicare is healthy," said Tavenner. "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."

Without the Affordable Care Act changes, millions of seniors would be forced to pay more for these basic services. According to the CMS, the cost for a colorectal screening used to run a senior as much as $160 in copays. For some, this may have been a barrier to getting critical healthcare services or may have increased the need for supplemental insurance.

Original Medicare is Part A and B insurance. Part A covers hospital insurance, while Part B covers most medical insurance like doctor visits, outpatient care and medical supplies. It does not, however, cover prescription drug plans.

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