The report ‘Use of Selected Clinical Preventive Services Among Adults – United States, 2007-2010’ by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that only 50% of U.S. adults received selected preventive services from health care professionals prior to 2010 consisting of consultations, screenings, and prescriptions.

The report provides a detailed insight into US adult clinical preventive services that were declared as priorities for public health by the CDC, and evaluated according to the health care law of 2010 (prior to the Affordable Care Act). It offers baseline information on the use of select adult preventive services, such as blood pressure control, aspirin or other blood-thinning therapy, screening and controlling high cholesterol levels and smoking cessation.

The key findings of the report show:

  • Only 47% of patients with heart disease primarily affecting the blood vessels received a prescription for the daily-recommended use of aspirin during doctor’s visits.
  • Adults of 18 years or older with hypertension should receive a clinical treatment plan, including necessary medication and monthly follow-up visits until their blood pressure is controlled according to guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. However, only 44% of people with hypertension, i.e. more than half, had their blood pressure under control.
  • About 33.4% of men and 25.6% of women were not screened during the last 5 years, regardless of strong evidence that screening and treatment for high cholesterol decreases illness and the risk of mortality due to heart disease, and only around 32% adult men and 32% adult women with high LDL, i.e. bad cholesterol levels had it under control.
  • Data from two surveys (the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Health Interview Summary) showed that less than 1 in 13 smokers received medication to assist the to quit smoking when they visited their doctor.
  • CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. declared:

    “Clinical preventive services prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer and other diseases and save lives. This report provides a snapshot of preventive services for U.S. adults before 2010. As we look to the future, we can track how our nation’s health is progressing through better prevention in health care.”

    In the future, the data could be subject to change due to certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which include a requirement for new private health insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without cost sharing. Cover for a new annual wellness visit under Medicare is also required under the health care law, which means that Medicare beneficiaries do not have to share costs for recommended preventive services. The law furthermore provides financial incentives for state Medicaid programs to support initiatives that provide the general public with information about the benefits of preventive services and to cover these services for adults.

    Last year, the Affordable Care Act ensured that about 54 million Americans received at least one new free preventive service through their private health insurance plan, whilst approximately 32.5 million Medicare beneficiaries received at least one free preventive benefit, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.

    CDC has several programs in place to increase the use of and improve access to clinical preventive health services. They include Million Hearts initiative through which CDC and its partners work to provide effective treatment for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tobacco addiction. The initiative works to increase the number of clinicians who deliver appropriate counseling on the use of aspirin and other blood-thinning therapies for patients at high risk of heart attack or stroke.

    The CDC is currently collaborating with medical systems and health provider organizations to raise the number of physicians who assist people to stop smoking. This includes measures, such as routinely screening patients for tobacco use, offering advice for various smoking cessation methods, building referral systems to tobacco quit lines and other community resources, as well as lowering costs by removing co-payments, so that quit line help and cessation drugs are covered under the benefits.

    The CDC’s has provided states and communities with Community Transformation Grants that are currently used to promote prevention and control hypertension and high cholesterol levels.

    In addition, the CDC also works with state Medicaid programs in developing systems that are capable of identifying people, who due to their age and risk behaviors have a risk of developing various health conditions.

    These systems will ensure screening of this population and that those with abnormal findings are rapidly referred to a medical provider.

    The report also contains baseline data on colon and breast cancer screening, diabetes management, influenza vaccination, and HIV testing.

    Written By Petra Rattue