doctorThe Affordable Care Act has been in the news a great deal, but what does it mean for seniors in Jackson, Tennessee?

In 2013, more than 3.5 million seniors and other beneficiaries with Original Medicare took advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit established by the health care law, sometimes called Obamacare.

Previously, Medicare recipients had to pay part of the cost for many preventive health services. These out-of-pocket costs made it difficult for many seniors to get the important preventive care they needed. Today, procedures like screenings are covered at no cost to beneficiaries with no deductible or co-pay, helping care providers prevent, identify and treat health problems earlier.

The cost of health care has been rapidly accelerating, but Obamacare was designed to employ strategies that reduce the growth rate of Medicare spending, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Accountable Care Organizations established by the ACA help doctors and hospitals provide higher-quality coordinated care to millions of seniors and other beneficiaries while reducing the cost of health care, according to HHS.

The health care law has also saved seniors billions on their prescription drugs since it was enacted. Seniors with Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) saw a $15 drop in their deductible, from $325 in 2013 to $310 in 2014. The “doughnut hole” (coverage gap for seniors with large prescription drug needs) has shrunk each year since 2011 and should be completely eliminated by 2020.

In the first 11 months of 2013, 72 percent of Original Medicare Part B enrollees in Tennessee received all free services, while 85,302 participated in annual wellness screenings.

These are just some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are proving highly beneficial to the health and treatment of senior citizens in Jackson. The ACA should strengthen the financial health of Medicare so this program can continue to offer benefits for Tennessee’s seniors.