April 16, 2012
Anthony Shih, Julia Berenson, Melinda K. Abrams
A. Shih, J. A. Berenson, and M. K. Abrams, “Preventive Health Services Under the Affordable Care Act: Role of Delivery System Reform” Medscape Public Health, published online April 12, 2012.
The Affordable Care Act, if fully implemented, will have a profound effect on health care in the United States. In this article, experts at The Commonwealth Fund examine the role the law will have in increasing the use of preventive health services.
What the Study Found
The Affordable Care Act will dramatically expand health insurance coverage. Already, health plans have begun extending coverage to dependent children up to age 26, as the law requires. In 2014, most nonelderly low-income adults will become eligible for Medicaid, while new health insurance exchanges will open to provide access to affordable, subsidized coverage options for individuals and small businesses. By reducing cost barriers and facilitating access to care, the health care reform law will significantly increase use of preventive services.
The law will also eliminate cost-sharing for approved preventive services, which is likely to have a significant effect on the provision of preventive services. Additional provisions in the law will aid the adoption and spread of medical homes, which provide patients with timely access to primary care, coordinate care across providers, engage in continuous quality improvement, and partner with patients to help them manage health conditions. Research from The Commonwealth Fund has demonstrated that patients who have a medical home are more likely to be up to date with recommended preventive services.
The Affordable Care Act will have a powerful effect on the delivery of preventive services. The authors estimate that through expanded access to insurance coverage, reduced financial barriers to care, and improved quality of care delivery, an additional 9.8 million patients will receive recommended preventive services.