Beginning in January 2011, seniors will find it easier to access preventative care. Medicare recipients will receive free annual wellness visits, free preventative care, and free screenings with an A or B recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which include tests like mammograms, colorectal cancer screenings, and bone mass analysis.
As additional recommendations are available from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, these routine and preventative tests will also be free of charge. Annual wellness visits will assess medical and family history, as well as a personal risk assessment and an analysis of the patient's abilities and risk of injury.
Identifying these risks at an early stage will allow physicians and other medical professionals to recommend and make referrals to appropriate support services prior to injuries and progression of chronic disease. For example, a patient at risk of developing heart disease or diabetes may be referred to a nutritional counselor.
No out-of-pocket costs will apply to preventative care, which can add up to a significant savings for a senior. For example, an article on SeniorMarketAdvisor.com notes that an average female Medicare recipient could be paying up to $300 out-of-pocket for a mammogram, colon cancer screening, flu shot, diabetes and cholesterol testing, and a pap smear -- all of which will be free under the new Affordable Care Act.
These new rules will result in cost savings for the Medicare program over time, as well, by avoiding some costly medical procedures and treatments that occur as a result of inadequate preventative care. Chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes account for 75% of health care spending in the United States, according to the newly-launched government health care resource HealthCare.gov, and many of these conditions are preventable.
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