On March 16, 2011, HHS released a report (the "Report") finding that 151,764 Medicare beneficiaries have received an “annual wellness visit” between January 1 and February 23 of this year—an average of 2,800 seniors and disabled persons per day. Starting this year, annual wellness visits are considered preventive benefits, now covered by Medicare free of charge to the patient (no deductible or cost-sharing) when obtained from qualified and participating practitioners. The Report notes that the Affordable Care Act waives cost-sharing for many preventive services as recommended by the United States Preventative Services Task Force and predicts that health care costs will be reduced due to early identification, treatment and management of disease. For example, the Report cites one study which found the rate of women getting mammograms increased by nine percent when cost-sharing was removed (only 43 percent of women with Medicare received mammograms in 2008). The Report further predicts that expanded coverage for prevention services will lead to lower premiums for employers who sponsor retiree coverage, for States that fill in Medicare’s coverage gaps, and for seniors that purchase Medigap coverage. The Report is available by clicking here. HHS’s news release is available by clicking here.