To many, the cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is its emphasis on providing Americans with access to important preventative care. The benefits of preventative care have been discussed in this blog before, in the context of chronic disease , breast cancer and cervical cancer.
How exactly, then, is the ACA expanding access to preventative health care?
The list of important preventative health procedures was determined based on guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Due to the ACA, children have gained access to regular pediatrician visits, immunizations, important vision and hearing screenings and developments assessments, as well as screening for obesity and counseling on how to maintain a healthy weight. Both men and women have gained access to recommended immunizations and flu shots; cancer screenings (including colonoscopies and, for women, pap smears and mammograms); obesity screening and healthy diet counseling; screening for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, depression and HIV; and tobacco use counseling. In addition, starting in 2014, women will be covered sexually-transmitted infection screening, and other services specific to women, such as gestational diabetes screening and contraception.
While many people with health insurance were already covered for these preventative health procedures, many were not: 31% of those who had health insurance through their employer have seen an expansion in their benefits—that’s 54 million Americans! In Illinois, the impact is among the biggest: 605,000 children, 898,000 women and 887,000 men have gained new access to expanded preventative health care. That is 2,390,000 Illinoisans, total, who have directly benefitted from the prevention expansions in the ACA! I am proud to serve on the Administration’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health, established by the Affordable Care Act, where we will continue to develop policy and program recommendations, and advise the National Prevention Council on lifestyle-based chronic disease prevention and management, integrative health care practices, and health promotion
Health & Disability Advocates, Chief Executive Officer