Feds still need to sell us on the benefits of health reform


I was shocked recently to learn that many Americans don't use preventive care services. For example, most adults over 50 are not up to date on their colon cancer screenings. And more than half of women in the U.S. who are eligible to get a yearly mammogram choose not to get one.

In theory, if more Americans used preventive services, they would manage their chronic conditions better and prevent worse problems down the pike. In the best of all possible worlds, they would stay healthier and cost less to care for in the long run.

The administration clearly thought preventive care was important enough to make it easier for more people to obtain, as evidenced by a provision in the Affordable Care Act that says Medicare and new health plans must give consumers free preventive care. Specifically, after Sept. 23, 2010, 45 preventive services, including screenings, checkups and patient counseling to prevent sickness, and other health problems will be covered, without your having to fork over a copay or coinsurance to meet a deductible.

Hmm...free preventive services. Sounds like a formula for success. Except for one, teensy problem.

Does anybody even know about them?

Quick, name three of the preventive services that are recommended for your demographic. Couldn't think of any? Don't worry, I couldn't, either. But you can find the list on the Health.gov website.

It's been four months since the new rule went into effect. How do the Feds expect more people to use these free preventive services if they don't know: a) that they exist;  b) that they're free; and c) that they do a body good?

I hope that in the next few months, HHS ramps up its multimedia public relations campaign on these services. The sooner the better. Then, maybe more people would do themselves a favor and take advantage of one of the benefits of the health reform. - Sandra

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