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HHS Officials Tout Health Care Law Preventive Services Results

By CQ Staff

February 15, 2012 -- In their continuing effort to highlight the benefits of President Obama's health care overhaul, Health and Human Services officials announced that in 2011, an estimated 86 million Americans took advantage of the prevention coverage improvements in the measure.

Among those enrolled in private health insurance plans, 54 million received at least one new preventive service. The health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) requires insurance plans to cover a variety of preventive services for free, including colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.

An estimated 32.5 million Medicare beneficiaries also benefited from such preventive services as the new annual wellness visit. That number included 25.7 people in traditional fee-for-service Medicare. In addition, the report found that 9.3 million Americans—97 percent of those in individual Medicare Advantage managed-care plans—were enrolled in a plan that offered free preventive services. Assuming that people in Medicare Advantage plans utilized preventive services at the same rate as those with traditional Medicare, HHS estimated that 32.5 million people benefited from Medicare's coverage of prevention with no cost sharing.

"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," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

The report broke down the preventive-services results by ethnic group. The results showed that an estimated 6.1 million Latinos, 5.5 million African Americans, 2.7 million Asian Americans and 300,000 Native Americans with private insurance received expanded preventive benefits coverage in 2011.

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