Today, our health-care system is more like a sick-care system. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are responsible for seven of 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75 percent of the nation's health spending. But too many Americans fail to get the screenings and visits they need to help them prevent these conditions and stay healthy in the first place.
That's why the Obama administration has made it a top priority to ensure that more Americans get access to life-saving preventive care. From the historic investments in prevention in the Recovery Act, to the first lady's Let's Move Campaign to end childhood obesity, to the Affordable Care Act, the administration is laying the foundation for a health-care system that focuses on keeping every American healthy.
Last week, we took another step forward. As part of the Affordable Care Act, we announced that beginning this Sept. 23, all new private health insurance plans will have to cover a wide range of basic preventive services without charging a deductible, co-payment or co-insurance.
Eliminating cost-sharing for these services will help save lives. Even with insurance, out-of-pocket costs for screenings, visits, and vaccines can add up quickly. Now, Americans hit hard by the economic downturn won't have to think twice about whether they can afford a recommended mammogram or counseling with their doctor to help them quit smoking or lose weight.
Just last week, I had the privilege of meeting some of those Americans whose lives would have been forever changed if their insurance had not covered the preventive services they needed.
When Maggie's little boy John was born, she knew how important it was to take him to all of his well-child visits -- especially critical during the first year of life. At his 1-year visit, the pediatrician felt a mass in John's stomach.
Maggie's otherwise completely normal, happy and healthy baby had a stage 3 neuroblastoma that had spread throughout his midsection. There is no way that Maggie and her husband would have caught John's cancer in time without the routine well-child checkup her son was able to receive.