Affordable Care Act ensures women receive preventive services at no additional cost

Measure includes coverage of breast-feeding supplies

WASHINGTON — New guidelines that will ensure women receive preventive health services at no additional cost were announced Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Developed by the independent Institute of Medicine, the new guidelines require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services, such as well-woman visits, breast-feeding support, domestic violence screening and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible.

“The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start,” stated HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.”

Last summer, HHS released new insurance market rules under the Affordable Care Act requiring all new private health plans to cover several evidence-based preventive services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, blood-pressure checks and childhood immunizations, without charging a co-payment, deductible or coinsurance. The Affordable Care Act also made recommended preventive services free for people on Medicare.

Today’s announcement builds on that progress by making sure women have access to a full range of recommended preventive services without cost sharing, including:

  • Well-woman visits;

  • Screening for gestational diabetes;

  • Human papillomavirus DNA testing for women 30 years and older;

  • Sexually transmitted infection counseling;

  • Human immunodeficiency virus screening and counseling;

  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;

  • Breast-feeding support, supplies and counseling; and

  • Domestic violence screening and counseling.

New health plans will need to include these services without cost sharing for insurance policies with plan years beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2012.

For more information on the HHS guidelines for expanding women’s preventive services, click here. The guidelines can be found here.

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