Low- or no-cost preventive care is a keystone of health care reform. For women, these benefits are especially critical. Women are more likely to forgo physician visits and health screenings because they cannot afford them—but most will need a wide range of care both during and long after their reproductive years.
To encourage women and men both to seek preventive care, all plans sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace—and many others—will provide these services at no charge. As long as the insured person chooses in-network doctors, hospitals and facilities, the insurance plan will cover the total cost. That means no co-payment or coinsurance charges will be billed to the individual.
For all adults, these fully covered preventive services include screenings for blood pressure, depression and obesity. Many other screenings and immunizations are offered to those in certain age and risk groups. Anemia screening for pregnant women, cervical cancer screenings, folic acid supplements for women who may become pregnant and mammograms for women age 40 and older are just a few examples.
As of Aug. 1, 2012, the list of fully covered preventive women’s health services grew even more extensive. As a result, all new health plans are required to include the following with no co-pays or coinsurance:
- Well-woman visits, including care before and during pregnancy
- Screening for gestational diabetes, in women who are considered high risk, at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, once every three years beginning at age 30
- Annual counseling for sexually transmitted infections
- Annual counseling and screening for human immune-deficiency virus (HIV)
- Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling, including the costs for renting breastfeeding equipment
- Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence
- Contraceptive methods and counseling, including contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures. However, this rule does not apply to group health plans sponsored by religious employers.
Preventing, delaying and minimizing illness is the best strategy for reducing the overall cost of health care. By providing screenings and other preventive services to women at no charge, the Affordable Care Act promotes the healthful behaviors needed to support this strategy.