Health care reform was enacted to provide better coverage and services to many Americans. However, some of the changes have gone unused, according to a new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report.
The report, “Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults – Closing the Gap,” focuses on the use of potentially lifesaving preventive services among seniors. Through concerted partnerships and new opportunities, the hope is to close the current gap so that all Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older can enjoy long, productive lives and age with dignity and strength.
“Unfortunately, many older adults don’t currently take advantage of free and low-cost preventive vaccinations, screenings and other available preventive services covered by Medicare,” notes Alan Weinstock an insurance broker at MedicareSupplementPlans.com.
What the CDC Report Examined and Found
The CDC report looked at whether older Americans were receiving the following preventive services, which are offered through their original Medicare plan:
1. Vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease
2. Screenings for breast and colorectal cancer, diabetes, lipid disorders and osteoporosis
3. Counseling services to help patients quit smoking
The results found significant racial disparities in the use of these preventive services. For example, according to the report, 49% of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 47% of Hispanics have not undergone screenings for colorectal cancer, compared with 34% of whites.
In addition, more than half of Hispanics, and 47% of blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders report not having received pneumococcal vaccinations, compared with 36% of whites.
The reasons for the racial disparities are “complex,” according to the report. It states that elderly U.S. residents need to be more aware of the preventive services that are available to them under the federal health reform law, and the services that are covered by Medicare.
Medicare Beneficiaries Take Advantage of No-Cost Annual Checkups
“The good news,” says Weinstock, “is that over 150,000 Medicare beneficiaries over the past two months have participated in annual wellness visits provided under the health reform law.”
Medicare beneficiaries became eligible for many non-cost preventive services, including one-time annual check-ups for those enrolled in the Part B program under the health care law that went into effect January 1, 2011. This is important since, according to the experts, a wellness visit can cost more than $160. And follow-up visits generally run over $100 each. These non-cost wellness visits help reduce health costs for employers, states and elderly Medicare beneficiaries.
For Medicare beneficiaries unsure of their coverage, these vaccines, screenings and counseling services are currently provided under Medicare:
4. Influenza vaccination
5. Pneumococcal vaccination
6. Breast cancer screening
7. Colorectal cancer screening
8. Diabetes screening
9. Lipid disorder screening
10. Osteoporosis screening
11. Smoking cessation counseling
Part of the CDC report includes information on why these services matter. For instance, about 85% of deaths and 63% of hospitalizations attributed to influenza occur in persons 65 years of age and older. And nearly half of all new cases and nearly two-thirds of deaths from breast cancer occur in women 65 years of age and older. So taking advantage of preventive programs is important for Medicare beneficiaries to maintain good health.
Medigap insurance can give what the original Medicare Supplement cannot and this is a very effective advantage of the Medigap insurance California.
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