Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Older Adults Lack Preventive Care

Adults over the age of 65 are not getting the preventive services that they need, according to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday. The report found that preventive services, including vaccinations, tobacco cessation, and screening for cancer, diabetes, lipid disorders, and osteoporosis are underutilized. The report emphasizes that adults over 65 should be taking advantage of preventive services on a regular basis, and notes that many beneficiaries don’t know what services are covered by Medicare.

As a provision of the Affordable Care Act, certain USPSTF A and B recommended preventive services are covered without cost sharing by Medicare patients. In order to promote uptake of preventive services, including those services that are currently underutilized, Medicare has instituted an annual wellness visit. The wellness visit will allow Medicare beneficiaries access to preventive services on a regular and continued basis. It will be based on a detailed Health Risk Assessment (HRA), which allows patients and providers to create a personalized prevention plan. Partnership for Prevention, along with the CDC, has assisted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the effort to design and implement the HRA by interviewing and convening a group of HRA experts.

Medicare coverage, along with outreach and education for the annual wellness visit, will help to bring awareness to the need for and use of preventive services for those over the age of 65.

Rebecca Doigan, MPH
Research Fellow and Program Associate


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