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Monday, February 11, 2013

Medicare is Good Care

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

My grandmother likes to complain—her feet hurt, she doesn’t understand the internet, kids these days. But the one thing she never complains about? Medicare.

Medicare beneficiaries love Medicare because it works, and this year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, my grandmother is even happier with her coverage. According to a new report released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), more than 3.5 million Americans with Medicare saved more than $2.5 billion on prescription drugs since the law was passed. That’s a lot of money, and considering most Medicare beneficiaries are on a fixed income, saving just a little money can go a long way.

In addition, by removing the cost-sharing requirement for many preventive services, like cancer screenings and annual wellness visits, the health care law has made it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to get these services. Before the health care law was enacted, a colorectal cancer screening could cost up to $160. Spending that kind of money is just not an option for many Medicare beneficiaries, and the costs of these services may have forced them to go without.

But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 34.1 million Americans with Medicare used at least one free preventive service in 2012. And free preventive care is a lot more than just saving a few bucks. Preventive care makes it easier to detect problems earlier, when treatment can be more effective and less costly, and it helps seniors monitor their ongoing chronic conditions.

Last year was a pretty great year for my grandmother and the other millions of Medicare beneficiaries in America. Let’s make sure this vital program is protected so that many more grandmas can enjoy its benefits in the years to come.