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Idea of the Day: The Affordable Care Act Is Lowering Health Care Costs

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The Affordable Care Act is improving the quality of our health care while controlling rapidly rising costs.

Health care reform requires insurance plans to cover important preventive services, including critical immunizations, numerous health screenings, and counseling services, with no cost-sharing by women. In 2011 alone more than 85 million people—32.5 million Medicare beneficiaries and 54 million Americans with private insurance—including seniors, women, and persons with disabilities, accessed these critical preventive services for free. Millions of women will take advantage of more comprehensive preventive care beginning in August 2012, including free mammograms, well-woman visits, contraception, and breast-feeding support and counseling.

Seniors and persons with disabilities enrolled in Medicare saw significant savings thanks to the law. The Affordable Care Act works to close the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.” In 2011 alone, nearly 4 million seniors saved more than $2.1 billion on prescription drugs—an average of $604 per person—and will save even more in the years ahead. The average Medicare patient will save $4,200 from 2011 to 2021 while those with higher prescription drug costs will save as much as $16,000 over the same period.

Further, the Affordable Care Act will strengthen Medicare benefits while controlling its costs in other key ways. Medicare Advantage (Part C) enrollees benefited from 16 percent lower monthly premiums since 2010. Enrollment in the Medicare Advantage program also increased 17 percent since 2010 with more beneficiaries in higher quality four- and five-star plans, reflecting the act’s commitment to giving seniors choices for quality, affordable care. In February 2012 enrollment in Medicare Advantage was more than 2 million people higher than the Congressional Budget Office previously projected in 2010.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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