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"An Ounce of Prevention....."

November 2, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - A new provision in health-care reform may prove true the adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.

Chronic diseases are responsible for seven of 10 deaths in America every year, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, and account for three-quarters of all health-care spending. However, many of these diseases can be prevented - or better controlled - with preventive screening.

Carol Verret knows first-hand about the importance of screenings after getting a simple blood panel at a health fair.

"After another series of tests, it was determined that my breast cancer, that I initially had over 5 years before, had come back in my bone marrow."

Verret had a blood transfusion and hormonal therapy, and now says she's doing great. However, she's also glad the cancer was caught in time.

New provisions in the Affordable Care Act require that health insurers pay for preventive care. That means diagnostic tests such as pap smears or mammograms now are available without a co-pay. Critics say the government has no business mandating health care.

Kathy Leinz thinks any preventive care is a good thing. Like Verret, she found out at a health-fair screening that she had cancer - in her case, an aggressive form of colon cancer that moved into her liver.

"The treatments are not fun. They're very invasive to your body. But I guess the alternative to me was not an option."

Verret, who owns a small business, says she was counting her health-care pennies, even though she has insurance, because of the recession. That could have been a life-ending mistake.

"For an ordinary person, you don't connect the dots between a way you are feeling and something that may be internally wrong with you."

Leinz agrees.

"By doing what I did, it has saved my life. I would not be here today had I not had that blood test taken."

The new provisions also allow for screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptive care and domestic-violence screenings - all without a co-pay.

The full Act is online at healthcare.gov.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI