More Americans Got Mammograms When Obamacare Footed The Bill

More Americans Got Mammograms When Obamacare Footed The Bill
A new study says the mammography rate increased in the two years after Obamacare was put into place.

The number of Americans opting to get mammograms went up under President Barack Obama's health care law.

According to a new study, in the two years after Obamacare began, more women age 70 and older got mammograms compared to the two years before the Affordable Care Act was established.

To come to this conclusion, researchers analyzed Medicare claims for beneficiaries age 70 or older. Then, they pinpointed women who hadn't had a mammogram in the past two years. And they found that the mammography rate increased across all income and education levels.

The health care law eliminated out-of-pocket expenses for many preventive services, including mammograms. And that likely contributed to the increase. 

Those are certainly encouraging results, but the future of preventive services coverage is unclear.

President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare ASAP. But we don't know what portions of the law he'll get rid of and which ones he'll keep.

If the cost of preventive services falls back on patients instead of insurance companies, doctors worry people will opt out of screenings.

As the study's lead author told Forbes, "We know that poor people are less likely to get preventive services. My fear is that if we add cost back in, compliance rates will be even lower."

The study also looked at how many beneficiaries used colonoscopy preventive services. That number didn't see an increase after Obamacare was implemented. The study notes the lack of increase could be due "other procedural factors," including the need for sedation or concern about discomfort because of the invasiveness of the procedure. 

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, women age 40 and older should get a mammogram every one to two years.