From the beginning, the goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been to provide more coverage to more Americans who are uninsured and to strengthen the coverage of those who currently have insurance — all in hopes to better the health of Americans.
One way that the ACA has tried to do that is by making it a requirement that many insurance companies have to cover for free or with no co-pay for a host of preventative health care which includes flu shots, pap smears, colonoscopies, mammograms and HIV testing to name a few.
According to a recent report, this strategy seems to be working. The U.S. Department of Health announced that 54 million Americans with private insurance have accessed preventive health without paying out of pocket for it. And while some insurance already covered these services, many did not. And with co-pays and deductibles and other costs associated with health care coming out of pocket, for many families is too much of a financial burden, which means that people go without the care that they need.
According to the Department of Health, here is what is covered:
Children (0-17): Coverage includes regular pediatrician visits, vision and hearing screening, developmental assessments, immunizations, and screening and counseling to address obesity and help children maintain a healthy weight.
Women (18-64): Coverage includes cancer screening such as pap smears for those ages 21 to 64, mammograms for those ages 50 to 64, and colonoscopy for those 50 to 64; recommended immunizations such as HPV vaccination for women ages 19 to 26, flu shots for all adults, and meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccinations for high-risk adults; healthy diet counseling and obesity screening; cholesterol and blood pressure screening; screening for sexually-transmitted infections and HIV; depression screening; and tobacco-use counseling. Starting in August 2012, additional preventive services specific to women, such as screening for gestational diabetes and contraception, will be covered by new health plans with no cost-sharing.
Men (18-64): Coverage includes recommended immunizations such as flu shots for all adults and meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccinations for high-risk adults; cancer screening including colonoscopy for adults 50 to 64; healthy diet counseling and obesity screening; cholesterol and blood pressure screening; screening for HIV; depression screening; and tobacco-use counseling.
The ACA's goals may help in reducing racial health disparities in this country as well.
This expansion of preventative health care has made an impact on people of color in the U.S., says the report. It’s been estimated that 5.5 million African-Americans, 6.1 million Latinos, 2.7 million Asian Americans and 300,000 Native Americans with private insurance received expanded preventive benefits coverage in 2011 as a result of the new health care law.
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