Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Fox: Increasing the number of people who get preventive care is important to keep people healthier, avoid complications from illnesses, reduce long-term health care costs, and prevent premature deaths. By one estimate, over 100,000 lives could be saved each year if more people got their recommended preventive care.
By providing access to affordable insurance coverage and eliminating out-of-pocket costs for recommended preventive care in most health plans, the Affordable Care Act has reduced cost as a barrier to preventive care. This report could serve as a baseline for tracking the effects of some of the ACA’s preventive care provisions that might occur after 2012.
The services in this study are recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force and the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices. The nine preventive services that were part of this study were: screenings for blood pressure, breast cancer, cervical cancer, cholesterol, colon cancer, and diabetes; healthy diet counseling; and vaccination for hepatitis A and B. The data is from the 2011 and 2012 National Health Interview Survey.
In 2011 and 2012, people with health insurance received needed preventive care at up to three times the rate of those without insurance. People with higher household incomes also got more recommended preventive care than those with lower incomes.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Fox: Insurance coverage is a very important part of securing access to care. But it’s also important for people to know what preventive care is recommended for them so that they can make an appointment to get that care. Similarly, it’s important for physicians to make sure their patients are up-to-date on their recommended preventive services. People can visit www.cdc.gov/prevention to learn more about the care that is recommended for them and their loved ones, along with important questions to ask their healthcare provider. The site includes an interactive tool that highlights the services recommended for a particular individual based on their age, sex, and risk factors. Clinicians can also use the tool to find the appropriate clinical guidance, contraindications, and billing codes for the services recommended for their patients.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Fox: This report could serve as a baseline for tracking the effects of some of the ACA’s preventive care provisions that might occur after 2012. In prior insurance expansion efforts, increases in preventive care were observed. For example, after the 2008 expansion of Medicaid in Oregon, people who were given access to Medicaid through a lottery were significantly more likely to have received certain preventive services as compared to those who were not selected for Medicaid coverage. It took several years after the coverage expansion in Oregon for researchers to be able to measure changes and publish their findings. Monitoring the effects of the ACA will be an ongoing process.
Jared Fox, PhD (2015). Patients With Health Insurance Receive Up To Triple Amount Of Preventive Care