About 150,000 Medicare enrollees used new Affordable Care Act basic Medicare annual wellness visit benefits between Jan. 1 and Feb. 23, Obama administration officials say.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have posted a discussion of the new basic Medicare wellness benefits on the Web.

In the past, basic Medicare enrollees had to pay for all or part of the cost of many preventive services, such as checkups and vaccinations.

To get first-dollar coverage or low-co-payment coverage for routine care, enrollees had to buy Medicare supplement insurance or sign up for Medicare Advantage managed care plans.

Drafters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a component of the Affordable Care Act, tried to remedy that problem by adding wellness coverage to the basic Medicare program.

Program managers stopped applying deductibles, co-payment requirements or coinsurance requirements to many services Jan. 1.

In addition to an annual wellness visit, those services include some cancer screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, and screenings for conditions such as depression and cognitive impairment.

Other Medicare coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: