Nearly 56% of Medicare enrollees, or about 18.9 million people, received one or more free preventive services this year through the end of August, the CMS announced Thursday.
CMS outlines usage of reform law benefits
Meanwhile, by the end of August, about 1.3 million people in the program had had an annual wellness visit—a provision in the healthcare reform law for which there is no co-payment or cost-sharing—which represents an increase of about 23% from the 1.06 million beneficiaries who used the benefit as of the end of July.
The agency also reported that 1.28 million people have received discounts on brand-name drugs this year through the end of July, up from 899,000 at the end of June and 478,000 through the end of May. These discounts, according to the CMS, have totaled about $660 million in savings for seniors and people with disabilities.
CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick cited some of those statistics Thursday in Washington, where he was the keynote speaker at a Health Affairs event showcasing the journal's September issue about healthcare costs. After his formal remarks, Berwick answered a question about a recent study that found many of the uninsured are unaware of the law's benefits.
“I still see a challenge to help people really understand what's in it for them,” Berwick said. “And what's in it for them is a ton—and a lot. It's a constant challenge to take this gigantic step forward for the country and put it into terms that the average person can really understand how it's going to help them.”
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