New Health Reform Law: People on Medicare get free annual checkup, free preventive services

Last week I noted one under-reported provision of the new health reform law that requires all members of Congress to buy their health insurance from the same exchanges as millions of Americans. Today I’m noting another under-reported provision – starting this January 1, Medicare will offer a free annual checkup at the physician’s office for anyone on Medicare and completely remove copays, deductibles, and any other charges for a wide range of preventive services. This includes things like breast and cervical cancer screening, aspirin for the prevention of heart disease and similar services.

It’s the start of our move towards a health system more focused on preventing disease instead of treating afterwards, and it’s a welcome change.

14 Comments

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  2. Steve Kagan

    June 29, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Please tell me who ultimately pays for this “free” service?

  3. Adam Searing

    June 29, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    The health reform law makes Medicare more efficient largely by reducing overpayments to private health insurers in the Medicare Advantage program.

  4. Stephen

    June 29, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Steve Kagan: “Please tell me who ultimately pays for this “free” service?”

    What difference does that make? How is that even remotely relevant?

  5. Adam Searing

    June 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    And the whole point of this isn’t to make some services cost-free. It’s to encourage people to get preventive care first and early so they avoid larger health problems down the road, a result that’s good for the individual and good for the health system too. In fact, I can’t think of a single public health professional or medical provider who I know who doesn’t think encouraging preventive care isn’t a good idea.

  6. John Grooms

    June 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Steve Kagan asks, ‘Please tell me who ultimately pays for this “free” service?’
    Quick answer: Steve Kagan, of course. Gee, Steve, we thought you knew. . . .

  7. Adam Searing

    June 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Actually, physicians who see Medicare patients for primary health care services will see their reimbursement rise – yes, rise – under the reform law. Physicians who do primary care for Medicare and Medicaid patients will be paid more. Again, another way to start to transform our health system towards valuing primary care and disease prevention.

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  9. north state politics

    June 30, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Of course, working people pay for Medicare through taxes, and all seniors receive the benefits from Medicare. One might wonder, who pays for the US Army, who pays for the interstate road system, who pays for national parks. Mr. Kagan seems to not appreciate that by eliminating the cost for these preventive services, that people are more likely to have serious conditions identified earlier and treated when it costs less. But oh no, that would save him tax money in the long run that he must seriously oppose.
    It’s not all about YOU.

  10. AdamL

    June 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Dr. Kagan, Welcome to the Pulse! Things are sometimes a bit contentious here.

    I’ll address here your contention that the point of the letter to the editor you wrote was that Medicaid is undervalued because the cost-sharing is too low. If you say that was the idea your letter was meant to convey, I certainly believe you. But why didn’t you just say that.

    Instead, you wrote a fairly obnoxious letter that traded in stereotypes without ever explicitly making a point. I don’t mind sarcasm or irony, but if you are going to make a subtle point based on your interpretation of behavioral economics, you’re going to have to give us a bit more to go on.

  11. Joseph Coletti

    June 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    “Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not.”

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/7/661

  12. [...] but that’s exactly what the new health care law just did in Medicare too. Preventive care is now covered at full cost there along with an annual [...]

  13. [...] Also apparently they have now come to medicare – should have been there a long time ago! The Progressive Pulse – New Health Reform Law: People on Medicare get free annual checkup,… __________________ What, me [...]

  14. Joe

    September 29, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Dr. Kagan should have known better than to try to explain something complicated to your angry, ignorant audience.

    It’s all fun and games until you need a surgeon to perform a life-saving procedure on you or your loved one – everyone should appreciate the time and dedication that physicians devote to their profession – we want the best and brightest to go into medicine but we don’t want to compensate them.

    When you need a surgeon at 2 AM for your ruptured aneurysm, are you going to call Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank?

    As the saying goes, “Never argue with a fool…”

    I doubt most of your readers could complete this quote!