Health

With Obamacare, Americans seek more preventive cardiovascular care

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Americans are getting more preventive cardiovascular care since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to a UCLA study published Monday.

UCLA researchers led the study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Managed Care.

The study found that since the Affordable Care Act reduced out-of-pocket costs for preventive care, more people are getting screenings for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. The researchers also found that people at greater risk of cardiovascular disease are more likely to get treatment than before Obamacare.

Researchers looked at survey data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine how frequently Americans received the recommended screenings and treatments.

"If you’re not looking for it, you won’t find it and you can’t treat it. So, by helping people be diagnosed, you have at least an opportunity to treat them," said Dr. Joseph Ladapo, health policy researcher at UCLA.

He says the evidence shows a change for the better for many patients who could face major life-threatening complications otherwise.

According to the CDC, heart disease kills one in four Americans each year.

The study, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, also found more Americans are getting counseling to help them lose weight or quit smoking. More men are taking low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attack, it said.

One area where the study did not see an increase was in the rate of women getting aspirin therapy to prevent stroke. That could be related to confusion about changes over the past decade or so in the guidelines for how aspirin should be dispensed, said Ladapo.

He said it also points to gender disparities in health care.

"There have been concerns over the decades of women getting inferior care," said Ladapo.