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Affordable Care Act Makes Preventive Services More Accessible To Americans

Under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), if you and your family enrolled in a new health plan on or after September 23, 2010, your insurance provider is now required to cover certain recommended preventive services without charging you a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible.

These preventive services include blood pressure and cholesterol screening for adults, as well as immunizations and hearing and vision screenings for children. People enrolled in Medicare now also qualify for yearly wellness exams and many preventive services, and more than 150,000 seniors and others with Medicare have received an annual wellness visit since the Act’s implementation.

According to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, millions of Americans are not taking advantage of preventive services that health professionals say can prevent diseases and save lives. The report found that minority groups and older Americans are less likely to use preventive services, either due to socio-economic status or a lack of awareness about their risk factors.

Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging with HHS, said the Department must continue to reach Americans at a grassroots level to ensure they are educated about the benefits that are now available for them, including many made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which according to the agency’s website is an “independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence experts,” recommends various prevention services using five letter grades (A, B, C, D, or I). The grades rank the net benefit for obtaining particular prevention services, with “A” representing the highest net benefits and “I” the lowest.

The USPSTF has put prevention services such as various screenings for pregnant women, screenings for some cancers and testing for high blood pressure in adults in the “A” category of recommended services.

A full list of “A” and “B” grade recommended services can be found on USPSTF’s website.

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