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Dr. Peter L. Duffy, Director of the Cardiovascular Service Line at Reid Heart Cent/FirstHealth of the Carolinas in Pinehurst, North Carolina pinpoints key provisions in the Affordable Care Act for patients with cardiovascular disease.
Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were written to address the problem that too many of us don’t get the care we need to prevent serious illness. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. We can do a lot to lessen our risk for cardiovascular disease and many other conditions.
According to the American Public Health Association, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer account for seven of every ten deaths in the United States. We spend 75 percent of our healthcare dollars treating these, and yet only 3 percent of our healthcare dollars are spent on prevention.
To help shift the emphasis of our health care to prevention, the ACA calls for the creation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund to invest in proven prevention and public health programs to help Americans lose weight, stop smoking, and adopt other healthy living habits needed to win the battle against heart disease.
It also calls for making preventive services, such as screenings, vaccinations, and counseling, more accessible and affordable by eliminating deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance for employer-sponsored health plans or individual health insurance policies created after September 23, 2010, including preventive services specifically for children and pregnant women. Keep in mind, however, that some plans may charge for out-of-network providers and office visits.
You’ll make the most of your coverage if you work with your doctor to develop a wellness plan that includes the appropriate preventive services for you based on your age, gender, and risk factors. If you have questions about what is and isn’t covered under your plan, call your plan administrator. If you need more information you can also contact your state insurance department.
Preventive Services Available Under the ACA
The following preventive services may be available to you depending on your plan. For a comprehensive list click here).
- Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests
- Many cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopiesCounseling on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression and reducing alcohol use
- Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio or meningitis
- Flu and pneumonia shots
- Counseling, screening, and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies
- Regular well-baby and well-child visits, from birth to age 21
If everyone takes advantage of these preventive services now offered at no cost, we will need many more providers. The new law also includes incentives for primary care physicians and for improving access to care for underserved communities to renovate existing community health centers and build new ones and expand the services offered.
Helpful Prevention Guides
See the resources below for more information about what you can do to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease and other health issues:
Habits are hard to change, but the reward for good prevention practices is great for you and your family if it can help you stay healthy and live a longer, happier life.