Following his victory in the health reform battle, it is anticipated that President Obama will move to make preventative care less expensive for seniors. New rules recently proposed by the administration will need to be approved by Nov. 1 in order to take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.
Currently, Americans take advantage of preventative care at approximately half the recommended rate. This is believed to be primarily due to cost, including deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. The Obama administration aims to change that with new rules that will mean Medicare recipients will no longer have to pay out-of-pocket costs for some preventative services, which include an annual wellness visit to a physician.
The wellness visit will comprise a medical and family history review, a personal risk assessment, an evaluation of the patient’s abilities and risk of injury, a psychological and cognitive abilities screening along with routine measurements of weight, height, blood pressure and body-mass index. Additional services, such as an annual mammogram; screenings for colorectal, cervical and prostate cancer, aortic aneurism, diabetes, cholesterol and cardiovascular problems; nutrition therapy for diabetes or kidney disease; bone mass measurement and annual flu vaccination will also be offered free of charge.
Further preventative treatments, test and screenings will be added to the list of free services offered to Medicare beneficiaries as they become available and are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
It is expected that the average savings under the new rules could add up for seniors on a fixed income. For example, a female Medicare beneficiary receiving a mammogram, colon cancer screening, Pap test, diabetes and cholesterol tests and flu shot could pay out-of-pocket costs of up to $300 under typical insurance plan rules. However, the most significant savings to come from these new rules could be that seniors finally receive the preventative care that could save their lives.