The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on May 24 that through the first four months of this year, 12.1 million people in traditional Medicare received at least one preventive health service at no cost to them. That number included more than 856,000 who took advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit provided in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
CMS reported that 26 million people in traditional Medicare received one or more preventive benefits free of charge during 2011.
Prior to 2011, people with Medicare faced cost-sharing for many preventive benefits such as cancer screenings and smoking-cessation counseling. Now, under the ACA, many of these benefits are offered free of charge to beneficiaries, with no deductible or co-pay, so that cost is no longer a barrier for seniors who want to find and treat problems early, CMS stated.
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The agency also reported that seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare have saved a total of $3.5 billion on prescription drugs in the Medicare drug benefit coverage gap or “donut hole” from the enactment of the law in March 2010 through April 2012. In the first four months of 2012 alone, according to CMS, more than 416,000 people saved an average of $724 on the prescription drugs they purchased after they hit the “donut hole,” for a total of $301.5 million in savings.
People with Medicare who hit the coverage gap in 2010 received a one-time $250 rebate. In 2011, people with Medicare began receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 7 percent coverage of generic drugs in the “donut hole.” This year, Medicare coverage for generic drugs in the coverage gap has risen to 14 percent. Coverage for both brand name and generic drugs in the gap will continue to increase over time until 2020, when the coverage gap will no longer exist, CMS said.