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Vast numbers in U.S. receiving free preventive care under ACA

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 1, 2013

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More than 100 million Americans on public and private coverage have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s preventive health care coverage provisions, according to a report issued by the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

During the past two years, about 71 million Americans with private insurance have received at least one free preventive service, such as a flu shot or mammogram, and an additional 34 million covered by either fee-for-service Medicare or Medicare private plans have been able to receive an annual wellness exam or other preventive service at no additional out-of-pocket cost.

“Preventing illnesses before they become serious and more costly to treat helps Americans of all ages stay healthier,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement. “No longer do Americans have to choose between paying for preventive care and groceries.”

Under the ACA, most health insurance plans are required to cover recommended preventive services without charging a co-payment.

In January 2011, Medicare started covering a host of preventive benefits, including the annual wellness exam, tobacco-cessation counseling and various screening procedures. Those enrolled in a private health insurance plan that began on or after Sept. 23, 2010 also are required to have access to a variety of free screenings and other preventive services.

But a report issued in summer 2012 by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids indicated that not all insurers automatically were covering tobacco-cessation counseling as mandated by the ACA.

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