Yes, that terribly "broken" Medicare that Democrats stripped with the Affordable Care Act is actually...ahem...working.. According to a report just out, at least 5 million seniors took advantage of the expansion in preventive care services added under the Affordable Care Act.
According to the report, over 5.5 million beneficiaries in traditional Medicare used one or more of the preventive benefits now covered without cost-sharing including, most prominently, mammograms, bone density screenings, and screenings for prostate cancer. In 2011, Medicare began covering an Annual Wellness Visit at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries. As part of that visit, beneficiaries and their physicians can review the patient’s health and develop a personalized wellness plan. Over 780,000 beneficiaries received an Annual Wellness Visit between January 1 and June 10. Additionally, more seniors have used the Welcome to Medicare Exam this year. 66,302 beneficiaries had taken advantage of the benefit by the end of May 2011, compared to 52,654 beneficiaries at the same point in 2010 – a 26 percent increase.
I'm certain the wingnuts in Congress will use this as an excuse to pass yet another repeal of the Affordable Care Act. What would that be? The fifth or sixth time?
Sarcasm aside, this is a major big deal, because the way to control medical costs is via prevention, outcome-based treatments, and early detection. In 2014, those services will be available to everyone, which will set us on a path to lower health care costs for all, and save Medicare without draconian stupid things like handing it to insurance companies.
Just for good measure, there's this, too:
The new annual wellness visit can help spark the beginning of an ongoing conversation between patients and their doctors on how to prevent disease and disability. At this visit, beneficiaries can review their histories and make sure their primary care doctor knows about their other providers and prescriptions. They can also talk about the pros and cons of getting an influenza, pneumococcal or hepatitis B vaccination, or find out whether a diabetes test, a bone mass measurement, or any of several cancer screenings would be right for them. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare now covers many of these services without cost to patients.
With a little traction, we could probably stop talking about raising the Medicare retirement age, or letting companies release bogus studies (like McKinsey did) about how employers will be so burdened with the new requirements that they'll terminate their health insurance plans. I haven't fully reviewed the methodology of their study, but in my opinion, uncoupling health care from employment would be a good thing for everyone. Unfortunately, it appears that McKinsey may have had some mistaken conclusions based on faulty data and or survey questions.
To reiterate, the survey reported in the McKinsey Quarterly was not an economic forecast, but rather a measure of attitudes intended to understand the factors involved in employer decision making regarding employee benefits.
At any rate, this is what Republicans won't say out loud: The Affordable Care Act is working and Medicare beneficiaries like it.