CMS Promotes Medicare Preventive Care
June is “National Prevention and Wellness Month,” and CMS wants to see a greater number of Medicare beneficiaries taking advantage of preventive benefits, according to a June 20 press release.
More than 5.5 million Americans with traditional Medicare (approximately 16 percent of Medicare beneficiaries) have already had one or more of the recommended preventive benefits now available for free through the Affordable Care Act, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The most popular preventive benefits to date have been mammograms, bone density screenings, and screenings for prostate cancer.
Writing for the Medicare blog, CMS administrator Don Berwick notes that for the first time since the Medicare program was created in 1965, Medicare now covers an annual wellness visit with a participating doctor at no cost. There are no out-of-pocket costs for the “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit, and Part B deductibles and copayments have been eliminated for a host of additional preventive services, including bone mass measurement, some cancer screenings, diabetes and cholesterol tests, and flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis B shots. “Our job now is to ensure that everyone eligible for Medicare uses these benefits,” Berwick concludes.
To meet that goal, CMS is initiating a public service campaign, “Share the News, Share the Health,” which will run throughout the summer, with online ads and community events all over the country starting in July. “We need to encourage every person with Medicare, every caregiver, every physician to join our nationwide campaign for prevention,” Berwick blogs.
A renewed push toward prevention is the most recent step toward CMS’ mission fulfillment of better care and better health at lower cost through improvement in health care. “Intuitively, prevention makes sense,” Berwick writes. “As the saying goes, you can either pay now or you can pay later.” Preventing chronic disease among the Medicare population could help save an estimated two-thirds of the $2 trillion the United States spends treating preventable long-term illness today, according to the CMS press release.
Medicare’s dedicated caregivers’ website, “Ask Medicare,” now has a prevention section especially for caregivers. You can find additional information on prevention benefits at www.Medicare.gov and www.healthcare.gov (click on “Learn about Prevention” at the top). CMS has also launched the full Spanish version of its website.