Health reform law expands preventive care coverage for tens of millions in 2011

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By Consumers Union on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

While some features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) don’t go into effect until 2014, other provisions of the 2010 law are already well-established. That means that despite our ongoing battles to hold insurance companies accountable, we’re beginning to see evidence of many of the health law’s benefits.

For example, in September we reported that the U.S. Census Bureau found that the ACA had expanded coverage to hundreds of thousands of young adults, a result confirmed earlier this year.

Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced two other major results. In 2011, the ACA provided 54 million Americans with expanded access to preventive health services through their private insurance. Additionally, an estimated 32.5 million Medicare subscribers utilized a free preventive service, such as the new Annual Wellness Visit. In total, the ACA’s new preventive care provisions positively affected over 86 million Americans without shifting further costs onto consumers.

Not only do preventive services such as immunizations and cancer screenings save lives, they can also reduce the long-term costs of treatment. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius remarked, “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.”

As one person from Tennessee shared with us, the loss of preventive care can be devastating for someone’s personal and financial health.  It’s stories like these that push us to continue working to make sure the Affordable Care Act’s provisions benefit as many consumers as possible.

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