CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden: How To Overcome The Cost Of Care

A studio image of two hundred dollar bills, a stethoscope and a hypodermic needleEveryone in America should have the chance to live a healthy life, regardless of who they are or where they live or how much money they make. That’s the backbone of CDC’s 24/7 mission – keeping Americans safe and healthy where they work, live and play.

 As we mark National Minority Health Month, CDC stands tall on the foundation laid by some of America’s great black leaders.

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  • In 1899, W. E. B. Dubois recognized that health is inextricably bound to the total human condition.
  • Fifteen years later, Booker T. Washington initiated a health improvement week for black Americans which gained national recognition and is the predecessor of the month we celebrate this April.
  • Today, in the 21st century, one of the landmark achievements of the Affordable Care Act is the strengthening the effort to reduce health disparities and improve minority health.
  • Here at CDC, Dr. Leandris Liburd heads our Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.

The CDC & The Affordable Care Act: Overcoming The Cost Of Care

We at CDC are in the business of preventing and controlling disease. So, in addition to the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to expand health insurance coverage, improve quality and bring down costs, we’re especially excited about its role in advancing prevention and helping Americans stay healthy and identify illness early. 

Despite the proven benefits of preventive tests, screenings, and vaccinations, millions of Americans still don’t take advantage of these services because of barriers such as cost.

The Affordable Care Act, in just three years, has already made a contribution to prevention, saving lives and moving our system from a sick care system toward a health care system.

For many people with health insurance, the Affordable Care Act has eliminated out-of-pocket costs for proven preventive services. Removing co-pays and deductibles is already giving access to these services to more than 70 million Americans. 

The Affordable Care Act gives Americans with new private health plans access to recommended preventive services, including mammograms, flu shots and smoking cessation counseling without financial barriers. The law created the Prevention and Public Health Fund which makes an unprecedented investment in states and communities, helping them promote wellness, prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies.

One example is the Community Transformation Grant program supporting neighborhoods, school districts, villages, towns and cities in tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating. 

The Affordable Care Act also supports programs that promote healthy behavior. Our campaign, “Tips from Former Smokers,” has helped more than a million Americans try to quit and will extend the lives of tens of thousands of people who quit smoking as a result.

In addition, Million HeartsTM, a joint program of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and CDC, is working to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over five years.  Heart attacks cause a larger proportion of health disparities between black and white Americans than any other cause.

And efforts such as these…they’re only the beginning. A new health insurance marketplace will be created in 2014 so individuals can compare prices, benefits and health plan performance on easy-to-use websites and can know that their new health plan will offer free preventive care.

Learn more about the key features of the Affordable Care Act here

. Also, find out about the Health Insurance Marketplace and sign up for email and text updates here

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