About 71 million Americans in private health insurance plans received coverage for at least one free preventive healthcare service, such as a mammogram or flu shot, in 2011 and 2012 because of the Affordable Care Act, according to new data released by the Health and Human Services (HHS) department.
Additionally, an estimated 34 million Americans in traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans have received at least one preventive service, such as an annual wellness visit at no out-of-pocket cost because of the healthcare law.
Taken together, this means about 105 million Americans with private health plans and Medicare beneficiaries have been helped by the Affordable Care Act’s prevention coverage improvements.
Preventive services, consumer protections and other reforms under the Affordable Care Act are giving millions of Americans of all ages more value for their healthcare dollars and contributing to the slowest growth in healthcare costs in 50 years, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“Preventing illnesses before they become serious and more costly to treat helps Americans of all ages stay healthier,” she said. “No longer do Americans have to choose between paying for preventive care and groceries.”
Secretary Sebelius released the preventive services report as HHS celebrates the Affordable Care Act’s third anniversary. The law is keeping down costs and providing more value for consumers and taxpayers through new consumer protections, holding insurance companies accountable, building a smarter healthcare system and providing seniors with vital savings on their prescription drugs.
According to HHS, the Affordable Care Act is giving Americans better value for their health insurance plans by:
- Eliminating lifetime dollar caps on essential health benefits, and phasing out annual caps. About 105 million Americans no longer have to fear their benefits will disappear when they need them most because their insurer put a lifetime cap on the amount it would pay.
- Prohibiting health insurance companies from denying coverage to children based on a pre-existing condition, such as asthma or cancer.
- And in 2014, it will be illegal for health insurance companies to deny coverage to any American or to charge more because of a pre-existing condition. No longer will 129 million Americans with health conditions have to fear seeing their premiums increased or getting locked out of the insurance market.
- The law will also make it illegal for a health insurer to charge women more simply because they are women. “That means,” Secretary Sebelius said, “being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition.”