Short Takes On News & Events

HHS: Millions Of Seniors Taking Advantage Of The Health Law

By Phil Galewitz

August 4th, 2011, 3:34 PM

The number of Medicare beneficiaries being helped by the 2010 health care overhaul continues to pile up, Obama administration boasted today.

Polls have shown seniors, who are an important voting bloc, to be more skeptical of the law than other age groups.

Administration officials have sought to allay those concerns and to draw attention to new benefits seniors will receive under the law, including more than a dozen tests and screening procedures that Medicare will fully pay for. Today they announced that so far this year:

  • About 17 million seniors in the traditional fee-for service Medicare program have had one of those preventive tests without paying a co-payment or deductible.
  • More than 1 million seniors have used the new Medicare wellness visit.
  • Nearly 900,000 seniors have benefited from the 50 percent discount on brand name drugs while they are in the so called Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole,” or the gap in prescription drug coverage.

“This is very good news and shows the law is making Medicare stronger and more effective,” said Medicare Administrator Don Berwick.

Whether Medicare beneficiaries actually realize these benefits are the result of the health law is unclear.

Also in the announcement today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that in 2012 the average monthly Medicare prescription drug coverage premium will fall by 76 cents to $30. The falling price of the premium has nothing to do with the health law, but more to do with market competition between plans and increasing use of cheaper, generic drugs.

3 Responses to “HHS: Millions Of Seniors Taking Advantage Of The Health Law”

  1. Stephan says:

    How many would have used the services anyway, but get the advantage of it being “free”? Aside from the fact that this is pure pandering, of what benefit from a policy perspective are these “revelations’? It is interesting that the Medicare Part D results have nothing to do with the health law, but more to do with competition between plans and increasing use of cheaper generic drugs. Factors that the health law are undermining by closing the “doughnut hole” and generally attacking competition in health insurance.

  2. Gary Fillweber says:

    Great to hear the truth about the benefits of the Healthcare law.More info needs to be made available to the public. I had the pleasure to meet Mr Anton Gunn,Regional Director for U.S. dept of Health & Human Services here in Florida.

    He spoke about the jobs created here in Florida because of the law. ALso the many millions save by persuing waste,fraud and abuse in Medicare.

    Kudos to the honest people,shame on the rest

  3. Annie says:

    If a senior on an HMO goes for a preventive test and any procedure is perfomed, they will end up paying because they didn’t get a referral before seeing a specialist.
    An example is a dermatologist who finds skin cancer.
    I think seniors would rather have a co-pay with a better selection of physicians who take Medicare patients.