Policy & Law

HHS Empowers Patients to ‘Share the Health’ as Part of Reform Messaging Effort

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Getting the word out about all the preventive services available to Medicare beneficiaries is about as easy as wiping out fraud within CMS completely. But that’s not stopping HHS from pulling out all the stops in an effort to curtail future spending on preventable medical problems.

Getting the word out about all the preventive services available to Medicare beneficiaries is about as easy as wiping out fraud within CMS completely. But that’s not stopping HHS from pulling out all the stops in an effort to curtail future spending on preventable medical problems.

On Monday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the agency was launching a publicity campaign, known as “Share the News, Share the Health” to alert Medicare patients, their doctors and their relatives that the services are available at no charge. “Our job is to make sure every single Medicare beneficiary in the country knows,” Sebelius said.

Chalk it up to a (political) campaign by the federal government to get patients knowledgeable and accepting of the benefits afforded them under the reform law. Overall, this effort is a good thing. At its most superficial, it is a way to catch disease earlier, implement higher quality care delivery for less ill patients sooner, and it represents a time saver for the primary care physician, freeing him from informing the beneficiary in order to make the most of the covered physician service/visit. More profound, however, is the stark effect this initiative could have on patient empowerment — as only slightly more than 10 percent of beneficiaries takes advantage of at least one of the covered preventive medical screenings and services.

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