US patients have had more preventive care for cardiovascular disease under the Affordable Care Act

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Joseph Ladapo (David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, USA) and others report in American Journal of Managed Care that—by reducing out-of-pocket costs for preventive treatment—the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may have encouraged more people to have health screenings related to their cardiovascular health.

Comparing figures from 2006 through 2013, Ladapo et al found that more people were screened for diabetes, high cholesterol, cigarette use and high blood pressure after the ACA was implemented than before.

However, the authors also found a disparity between men and women in one key area. Although more men took daily doses of low-dose aspirin after the ACA was introduced, the number of women taking such doses of aspirin each day was unchanged.

Both before and since the ACA was enacted, low-dose aspirin was listed as a medication in about 9.5% of office visits by women 55 to 79. At the same time, the number of office visits by men with low-dose aspirin listed as a medication increased to 13.5% from 11.1%.

Ladapo says that the discrepancy could be due to a lingering perception among some doctors that heart disease is more of a “man’s disease.” He adds: “There has been a lot of concern about women receiving poorer quality cardiovascular care, and our study reinforces this concern.”

Other findings

Additionally, the study showed that from 2006 to the fourth quarter of 2013, the percentage of doctor visits during which diabetes screening was performed increased to 7.6% from 3.9%; during which people talked to their doctors about smoking, to 74.5% from 64.4%; and during which screening for high blood pressure, or hypertension, was performed to 76.4% from 73.2%.

“These findings provide people with more information to make a judgment about the value of the ACA. All of these preventive cardiovascular services that increased in frequency are recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, and they all improve people’s health,” Ladapo comments.

Data for the study was drawn from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data from 2006 to 2013.

A previous study found that the ACA was linked to fewer cardiac arrests

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