Women Eligible for No-Cost Preventive Services

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Women are 33% more likely to visit the doctor than men, yet studies have shown that health costs have deterred women from seeking medical attention, even when they are insured. As of August 1, 2012, under the new Affordable Care Act, women can take advantage of certain preventive services without having to pay out-of-pocket costs for new, non-grandfathered private health plans.

Providing preventive services at no cost will allow women to take the necessary steps to prevent illness and disease, and to promote their health.

Millions Eligible to Preventive Services at Zero Cost-Sharing

The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation published a report on July 31, 2012, that estimated that 47 million women are eligible to receive preventive health services under the new Affordable Care Act. The findings are based on the most recent data from the Census Bureau.

The report also noted that 2% to 10% of women develop gestational diabetes in the United States, highlighting that preventive screenings can be especially helpful in these types of cases, in which the women will most likely become diabetic after pregnancy.

8 New Preventive Services for Women

New, non-grandfathered health plans are required to provide the following preventive services at no extra charge:
Well-Women Visits
This includes an annual preventive doctor visit that determines which services are necessary and appropriate.
Gestational Diabetes Screening for Pregnant Women
This screening is for women who are 24 to 28 weeks pregnant or women at high risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Domestic and Interpersonal Violence Screening and Counseling
This screening and counseling is available for all adolescent and adult women and is intended to improve a woman’s health and safety.
Contraception and Contraceptive Education and Counseling
Women have access to FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, education, and counseling. This preventive measure does not include abortifacient drugs.
Breastfeeding Support, Supplies, and Counseling
Pregnant and postpartum women can get lactation support and counseling from trained providers. Pregnant and postpartum women will also have access to breastfeeding equipment. Though breastfeeding is important for the health of a mother and her child, women often forgo breastfeeding due to equipment costs.
HPV DNA Testing
Women who are 30 or Older will have access to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years, regardless of Pap Smear results. HPV DNA screening is intended to identify and treat signs of cervical cancer.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Counseling
Sexually active women will have access to STI counseling every year. Though this counseling is a helpful preventive measure, only 28% of women have talked to their doctors or nurses about STIs.
HIV Screening and Counseling for Sexually-Active Women
HIV screening and counseling is also provided once a year. Women are at an increased risk of contracting HIV, with a 15% increase AIDS among women compared to only a 1% increase in AIDS among men between 1999 and 2003, according the the Center for Disease Control.

To learn more about the preventive services, visit healthcare.gov.

Affordable Health Care Promotes Health

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, recognized that women forgo necessary medical visits when costs are high, and felt that lowering the costs would put women in a better position to take care of themselves and their families:

“Women’s health decisions shouldn’t be made by politicians or insurance companies. Rather than wasting time refighting old political battles, this Administration is moving forward and putting women in control of their own health care. If women are going to take care of their families and friends, they have to take care of themselves. The Affordable Care Act is making it easier for women to do that by making health care more accessible and affordable for millions of American women and families.”

Let’s hope that the health sector recognizes that the end goal is to have a healthy society; affordable preventive care is a good step in the right direction.

Elena Perez obtained a B.A. in American Literature at UCLA, but a growing interest in environmental issues led her to enroll in science classes and gain lab experience at UCSD and SIO. The close link between our ocean’s health and our own well-being has spurred Elena to explore the role environmental toxins play in our growth and development.

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