Beginning August 1, 47 million women in the U.S. have access to eight new prevention-related health care services, with no cost-sharing. The Affordable Care Act, requires that coverage of these services take effect at the next renewal date – on or after Aug. 1, 2012—for most health insurance plans. Previously, some insurance companies did not cover these preventive services for women under their health plans, while some plans required women to pay deductibles or co-pays. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 47 million women are in health plans that must cover these new preventive services at no charge. The eight new prevention-related services are:
- Well-woman visits
- Gestational diabetes screening
- Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
- FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
- HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older
- Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women
- HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women
NASW has long advocated for access to preventive care for women with no cost-sharing, including access to the full range of effective family planning and reproductive health services. According to a letter from NASW Executive Director Betsy Clark, to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,
“The federal contraceptive coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act will help fill in the gaps in current coverage and further reduce disparities by providing women broad access to contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing.”
Female Medicare beneficiaries already have access to such preventive services as annual wellness visits, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for those at risk of osteoporosis and diabetes screening. Approximately 24.7 million women with Medicare used at least one free preventive service in 2011, including the new annual wellness visit.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, secure, affordable coverage is becoming a reality for millions of American women and families. Men and children are also able to take advantage of preventive services at no extra charge under the health care law. These services include flu shots and other immunizations, screenings for cancers, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and depression.