Health Care Reform Boon for Cancer Prevention, Wellness
Experts at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center say health care reform will lead to early cancer detection and prevention. Eliminating co-payments for preventive screening and expanding coverage for services will remove financial barriers for cancer screening exams. Affordable health care also will improve vaccination rates.
For individuals with private insurance plans that started after September 2010, healthcare reform madates preventive cancer prevention services that include colorectal cancer screening, diet counseling for those at high risk, obesity counseling and screening, help with smoking cessation, PAP tests, HPV vaccine, genetic counseling and chemoprevention, mammograms and well baby and child visits.
For Medicare participants; beginning January 1, 2011, covered preventative services include mammogram, colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy, PAP tests, smoking cessation, personal risk assessment, body mass index and waist circumference measurements to find the risk for cancers fueled by obesity, and family and medical history review.
In 2013, states that offer free or low cost preventive services through Medicaid will receive incentives and are also already receiving funding to provide care at community health centers for vaccines, cancer screening and other preventive services.
According to Ernest Hawk, M.D., M.P.H., vice president and division head for Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at MD Anderson. “We’re optimistic that more cancers may be prevented or detected early when they can be treated most effectively." Healthcare reform mandates better coverage and expanded services for disease prevention - something that Hawk says “promises to reduce some of the barriers to cancer screening exams and improve vaccination rates.”
Prevention Services Expand in Response to Health Care Reform
To meet the anticipated need of increasing number of individuals seeking cancer screening, MD Anderson plans to expand their facilities. Included in their services are individualized cancer risk assessments, assistance with diet improvement, stop smoking programs that can reduce risk of various types of cancer.
Dr. Hawk explains, "The good news is that health care reform makes wellness and prevention top priorities. These are very promising and important developments for all Americans, and particularly for the most vulnerable among us — underserved communities, who often forgo regular screenings because they’re too expensive or inaccessible.”
Heath Care reform is expected to lead to the need for a different type of service from health care providers with more emphasis on prevention. More preventive services are being covered by insurance companies with zero co-pay, co-insurance or deductible. The affordable healthcare act should be a boon for cancer and prevention and welllness. Speak with your insurance provider for details about prevention and wellness services associated with your individual plan.