Free Preventive Care Services Mandated by the Affordable Care Act
August 1, 2012 – Today, the provision of the Affordable Care Act that mandates that insurers offer basic Preventive Care Services for Women, with no cost to the patient, goes into effect:
- Well-woman visits: Annual well-woman services such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, as well as other preventive health care services are offered with no co-pay for the patient. If more than one visit is required to deliver well-woman services, these visits are covered as well.
- Contraception and contraceptive counseling: Studies show that nearly 99 percent of all women have used contraception at some point in their lives, but more than half of all women between the ages of 18-34 struggle to afford it. With the Affordable Care Act, women now have access to FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and patient education and counseling with no co-pays. This does not include abortifacient drugs such as the Plan B drug. Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception, but for women who are employed by these organizations, the insurers must offer this benefit directly to them.
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their children’s and their own health. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies. Pregnant and postpartum women have access to comprehensive breastfeeding support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment.
- Gestational diabetes screening: This screening is for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. It will help improve the health of mothers and babies because women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In addition, the children of women with gestational diabetes are at significantly increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant throughout childhood.
- HPV DNA testing: Women who are 30 or older have access to high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years, regardless of pap smear results. Early screening, detection, and treatment have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.
- STI counseling, and HIV screening and counseling: Sexually-active women have access to annual counseling on HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These sessions have been shown to reduce risky behavior in patients, yet only 28% of women aged 18 to 44 years reported that they had discussed STIs with a doctor or nurse. In addition, women are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. From 1999 to 2003, the CDC reported a 15% increase in AIDS cases among women, and a 1% increase among men.
- Domestic violence screening: Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence should be provided for all women. An estimated 25% of women in the U.S. report being targets of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes. Screening is effective in the early detection and effectiveness of interventions to increase the safety of abused women.
Information for this article was taken from www.healthcare.gov, a comprehensive government-sponsored site to help consumers navigate the health care system.
Authorized by Michelle Lujan Grisham for Congress