ACA Lightening the Load – Better Access to Preventive Care – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

As some Say Ahhh! readers know, I recently moved across
the country with my husband and toddler. 
It’s been more than three months, but we’re still searching our new
place for clothes or items that got lost in the shuffle. 


Of course, part of moving is also setting up your life in
a new place –new bank accounts, health insurance plans, and, of course, doctors
and other health care providers.  I
did my due diligence in January and took my daughter Maddie to her 15-month
appointment with a new pediatrician. When we were finished–with child care
immunization forms in hand!–I headed to the front to check out and pay the
usual co-pay.  The receptionist waved
me out–“You don’t owe anything,” she said.

Excited, I remarked to my husband that we just
experienced a direct benefit of the Affordable Care Act.  Insurers are now required to offer a
full range of preventive services, defined by the U.S. Preventive Care
Task Force, with no cost sharing for families.

(Later, of course, the wonk in me wondered: “Is my new
health plan grandfathered?”) It turns out that it was, which means it was exempt from ACA’s preventive
services provisions.   Our HR
office did tell me that my insurer made the preventive care change in response
to the law, aligning it with requirements in other plans–so, OK, it’s not a
direct result but due to positive peer pressure, so I’ll still thank ACA for
the extra cash in my pocket!) 

Whether or not my family benefitted directly, this is a
welcome change for so many low- and middle-income families who really need the
extra money in this tight economy, removing one more barrier to preventive
care.  Of course, child health
advocates know that Medicaid and CHIP already do this–the programs have a long
history of providing affordable, preventive care services through EPSDT and
most CHIP benefits.  The ACA
protects and builds upon these gains for kids by requiring private plans to offer
a full range of benefits with no cost sharing for families. 

So how many children have actually gained access to
preventive care as a result? 

According to a CCF fact sheet, released today:

More than half of the nation’s children have gained or
maintained access to cost-effective preventive care services as a result of the
Affordable Care Act. 
The ACA is already helping over 40 million children and
their families with better access to cost-effective preventive care through a
state Medicaid/CHIP program or private insurance plans.

The ACA has improved access to care in private plans by
expanding the quality of preventive services provided and removing cost
barriers for families.

  • Almost 1 in 5 (18.5%) U.S. children can now access new
    preventive services through their insurer.
  • More than 1 in 8 (13.7%) of the nation’s children can
    now receive preventive services at no cost to their families.

More than a third of children in the U.S. rely on
preventive care offered under Medicaid or CHIP. The Affordable Care Act
protects gains already made in Medicaid and CHIP for children and families.

How does this impact your state? The fact sheet includes
state-by-state data on the number and share of kids who have kept or improved
access to preventive services.

It’s remarkable what a difference the ACA has already
made, even when many provisions won’t go into effect for several more
years.  Thanks to ACA for helping
to connect more kids to preventive care (and for giving the Buraks one less
thing to keep track of!).  We
already have lots to celebrate for the ACA’s two-year anniversary this
Friday.  Hopefully by the time
Maddie turns two, we’ll have even more ACA successes to applaud.

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