One of the most well received provisions of the Affordable Care Act has been the requirement that new health plans cover recommended preventive health services at no cost to plan members. Last summer, the US Health and Human Services issued a list of recommended services that includes mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, and childhood immunizations which are now fully covered by new health plans. Today, HHS has added to this list, releasing new guidelines that specifically address the unique health needs of women.
Starting in August, 2012, new health plans will need to cover well-woman visits, sexually-transmitted infection counseling, HIV screening and counseling, FDA-approved contraception methods and counseling, HPV DNA testing, breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling, and domestic violence screening and counseling at no cost. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius proudly announced, “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.” For more details, see the HHS Factsheet.
By providing free services specific to women’s health, the ACA will help reduce health disparities that exist between men and women, as women often need a greater range of reproductive health services. Even small copayments have deterred many women from receiving essential preventive services.
Health Care For All is thrilled that women’s health services are now included in the list of cost-free preventive services under the ACA. Americans get preventive services at about half the recommended rate. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, both men and women will now be able to easily afford the care they need to avoid catastrophic illness, disease progression and enormous health care bills.