Preventive care that is covered under ACA-compliant health plans protect people against the likelihood of health emergencies and also helps to keep healthcare costs low. It prevents illness or injury in people from becoming catastrophic or acute and aims to help people stay fit and healthy. Preventing care such as regular doctor visits allow people to get their health conditions regularly checked so that any health issue is diagnosed at an early stage and prevented from becoming an acute or serious illness. This care allows people to stay active and productive and enable them to earn well even in the latter part of their lives. It is only due to health issues that 35% of the people are forced to retire early before being financially ready. Thus, people having access to affordable preventive care can get rid of such issues. Some of the common preventive care that is generally included in the national health plans are:
- Doctor visits like annual check-ups, well-child visits, and annual gynecological care
- Allergy medications
- Mammograms and Colonoscopies
- Skin cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol tests and screenings
Significance of Preventative Care
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that 7 out of 10 Americans every year die from chronic diseases, many of which are preventable. Preventative care is significant because it helps people stay healthy and allow them to have access to prompt health treatment when required, thereby considerably reducing their overall medical expenses. Different types of tests and screening that are included under preventative care identify disease early on and get it treated before it becomes a serious issue. Thus it drastically increases people’s lifespan because it allows them to easily detect health issues and treat them earlier in an easy manner. With preventive care, diseases are caught early and people have better control of their health. It has been observed that seniors who don’t have access to preventative care are more likely to use the emergency room as their primary care physician. The cost of emergency room care is extremely high for the uninsured, and hospitals are supposed to provide healthcare even if the patients are unable to afford to pay for the healthcare service they require. Since hospitals recover these costs from somewhere else, so it gets shifted to health plan premiums and to Medicaid that increases the healthcare costs for everyone.
Preventative Care’s Impact on Healthcare Costs
Uninsured people without having access to preventative care or prescription coverage simply fail to afford doctor visits, treatments, screenings, and medications required to manage these conditions, and so when they get affected they end up in the emergency room with health complications like heart attacks, and strokes. It has been revealed that chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke are the leading causes for four out of the five deaths in America that are either preventable or likely to be managed with regular healthcare access. Strokes and heart disease are mainly caused due to obesity or poor nutrition, and lung cancer is caused by genetic factors and smoking. Obesity is also a reason for several types of cancer. People having regular access to affordable preventative care have better chances to discover and manage these health issues. This also reduces the likelihood of emergency room visits and more expensive treatments for diseases that have progressed due to a lack of regular management.
The ACA Depends on Preventive Care to Reduce Costs
Health insurance companies along with Medicare and Medicaid are supposed to provide preventive care services for free as per the Affordable Care Act. Preventive care includes ten essential benefits that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and have no copay associated with it. The ten essential benefits of preventive care include:
- Preventive and wellness visits
- Maternity and newborn care
- Mental and behavioral health treatment
- Services and devices to treat patients with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions.
- Pediatric care
- Lab tests
- Prescription drugs
- Emergency room services
- Outpatient care
Impact of Preventive Care
The Affordable care Act has set this standard of benefits that prevents health insurance carriers from cutting benefits to reduce prices. Besides, they will not raise the health insurance premium also because millions of uninsured Americans will not obtain health insurance due to the preventive care benefits. The preventive care benefits will reduce healthcare costs, as doctors can diagnose and treat diseases and illnesses before these issues require expensive emergency room visits. This helps several people in the U.S. to avoid bankruptcy by obtaining early treatment or by having health insurance to cover these expenses. The ACA expanded behavioral health benefits to help the mentally ill, drug addicts, and alcoholics that encourage people with behavioral health problems to have health insurance. Even the Medicaid expansion ensures that low-income group people have coverage. All these jointly reduce expensive emergency room visits. Due to the preventive care benefits like maternity, newborn, pediatric care, and several other benefits many young and healthy people will purchase health insurance, which will considerably reduce the overall health care costs.