Medicare benefits hardly being used

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Affordable Care Act passed as part of the healthcare reform last year, provides Medicare beneficiaries with many preventive benefits free of charge, to help detect disease early when it is most treatable and curable, and manage diseases so that complications can be avoided. These benefits include a new free annual wellness visit and other recommended preventive services, like flu shots and certain cancer screenings.

A recent report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says 5.5 million Americans in traditional Medicare (that's only one-in-six) have taken advantage of these free services so far this year.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is launching a national outreach campaign to increase the awareness of these benefits and encourage Medicare beneficiaries to talk with their healthcare providers about the preventive services and screenings available to them.

Dr. Patrick Conway, Chief Medical Officer at CMS talked to Volunteer TV about some of these beneficiaries. He says ways to take advantage is to "first of all, get an annual wellness visit. In this visit a senior can talk to their healthcare provider about their health risks, how to modify those risks, and design an individual plan to prevent illness and disease."

Free services with The Affordable Care Act include screenings for numerous diseases and illnesses, such as breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Other benefits include simple preventatives such as the flu shot or vaccinations against other diseases.

Dr. Conway says screenings are important because "from personal experience as a physician, screenings for these illnesses...we find things that are more treatable and more easily cured. And we can also prevent the development of diseases like diabetes."

He also stresses on top of screenings and vaccinations that healthy eating and exercising are incredibly important.

To learn more about these benefits, visit MediCare.gov or call 1-800-Medicare.


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