One of the biggest goals of the Affordable Care Act — aside from making coverage accessible to those who are currently shut out of the system now — was putting a bigger focus on wellness and preventive care by giving everyone better tools to keep themselves healthy.
That’s why the law made sure that all new insurance plans would cover preventive services for free — with no cost-sharing or co-pays.
What qualifies as a preventive service? Who makes that call?
The Affordable Care Act let doctors answer this question — doctors from the national Institute of Medicine. The IOM recommended a full range of services they deemed to be essential preventive health benefits, including contraception and other services specifically for women. Those benefits included:
- screening for gestational diabetes in pregnant women for all women between 24-28 weeks of gestation, and for women at risk of diabetes at the first pre-natal visit,
- annual counseling and screening for HIV for sexually active women,
- comprehensive lactation support and counseling,
- costs of renting breastfeeding equipment,
- screening and counseling for domestic violence for all women and adolescent girls,
- and at least one well-woman preventive care visit annually for adult women.
You can read the IOM’s full report on recommended services for women, here.
Other recommended preventive services, available under all new insurance plans (created on or after March 23, 2010 or older plans that lose their “grandfathered” status) with no cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act include:
- Blood pressure and cholesterol screening,
- colon cancer screenings for adults over 50,
- depression screening,
- nutrition counseling for adults at risk for chronic diseases,
- and annual vaccinations like flu shots.
The Affordable Care Act protects women by making sure that they don’t have to give up important preventive care benefits over expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services. On average, birth control costs $600/year, putting it out of reach for women whose employers don’t cover it.