Ouch. That ‘free’ annual checkup might cost you. Here’s why.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was designed to cover many preventive health services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and vaccines at no cost to patients. However, medical providers and billers have found ways to exploit gray areas in the law to charge patients extra. Many patients are receiving unexpected bills for preventive care visits, due to unclear definitions of what is covered. Patients end up paying bills they don’t owe, which can lead to financial hardship and discourage them from seeking necessary preventive screenings. There is no federal enforcement mechanism to catch these billing abuses, which may lead to rising healthcare costs and discouragement of preventive care.

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