By Bob Semro
A recent poll shows that a slim majority of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act in general, but other surveys show that support grows dramatically when people learn about specific provisions of the law.
Opinions may not change overnight, but the fact is, more and more seniors are benefiting from the law. New figures show that thousands of seniors and disabled Americans are improving their health thanks to expanded preventive care services and saving money on prescription drug prices because of a shrinking “donut hole.”
It is especially important that seniors learn about the benefits of the ACA because they have been the victims of some of the most egregious misrepresentations about the law. Remember “death panels”? That was the heated political term applied to the notion of counseling about living wills, advanced directives and end-of-life options.
Factual information is always better than overheated rhetoric. Here’s the latest dollars-and-cents news about how the Affordable Care Act is helping senior citizens across the country, according to figures released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):
$724 – Average savings for seniors and people with disabilities on prescription drugs in 2012, thanks to closing of “donut hole” (January-April).
416,000 – Number of people who saved an average of $724.
$301.5 million – Total donut hole savings in 2012 (January-April).
5.1 million – People who benefited from shrinking of donut hole in 2010 and 2011.
$3.2 billion – Total savings for 2010 and 2011.
$3.5 billion – Total savings from March 2010 to April 2012.
Another benefit of the health care law is wellness care for seniors – staying healthy and preventing more debilitating illnesses. Many preventive benefits, including cancer screenings and smoking-cessation counseling, are provided at no cost. Here are some figures:
12.1 million – Medicare recipients who received at least one preventive service at no cost in 2012 (January-April).
856,000 – Of the 12.1 million recipients, the number who participated in an annual wellness visit.
26 million – People who received one or more preventive benefits at no cost in 2011.
“Thanks to the health care law, millions of people with Medicare have paid less for health care and prescription drugs,” said Marilyn Tavenner, acting CMS administrator. “The law is helping people with Medicare lower their medical costs, and giving them more resources to stay healthy.”
We should also understand that these are just the benefits that seniors have received since the law was passed. Other Americans have benefited as well, and even more significant benefits can be expected in the years to come.
Here are links for more information on the donut hole, preventive services and screenings, vaccinations and other preventive measures.
Bob Semro is a health care policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center, a non-partisan policy research center that advocates public policies that reflect progressive values.