HHS: Affordable Care Act Extended Free Preventive Care to 71M with Private Health Insurance
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today in a press release that about 71 million Americans in private health insurance plans received coverage for at least one free preventive health care service, such as a mammogram or flu shot, in 2011 and 2012 because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
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 ACA's prevention coverage improvements.
Preventive services, consumer protections and other reforms under the ACA 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.
"Preventing illnesses before they become serious and more costly to treat helps Americans of all ages stay healthier," Secretary Sebelius 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 this week. 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 health care system, and providing seniors with vital savings on their prescription drugs.
According to HHS, the ACA 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."
The full report on expanded preventive care for Americans with private health insurance is available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/PreventiveServices/ib_prevention.cfm.
Learn more about the key features of the Affordable Care Act at www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/full.html.