By Carolyn J. Jacobson, creator of CLUW's Contraceptive Equity Project and Cervical Cancer Prevention Works project
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), starting today, all new health care plans will be required at the start of their plan year to cover a variety of preventive health care services with no co-pay or deductible. Because some preventive benefits are already in place, such as prenatal screenings and mammograms, over 20 million American women have received at least one preventive health care service without having to make a co-payment or pay additional costs.
The provisions going into effect on August 1 will make preventive care more affordable to millions of Americans. CLUW President Karen See notes that this coverage is “especially important to women, as they are more likely than men to avoid needed health care, including preventive care, due to cost.”
“August 1 is a very significant day,” she added, as “on this day and over the next few years, as an increasing number of health plans come under the law’s reach, more and more women will have access to a wide range of preventive services without co-payments or deductibles.”
Preventive services in new health plans, starting August 1, must provide the following services without co-pay or deductibles:
· Well-woman visits
· Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
· Contraceptive methods and counseling
· Screening and counseling for domestic partner violence
· Screening for gestational diabetes
· Counseling for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
· Screening for HIV
· DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV
CLUW has partnered with a number of coalitions and organizations working in support of passage of the ACA, as well as on educating women about the law and what its provisions offer after it was signed into law.
One of these organizations, The National Women’s Law Center, has provided outstanding resources at each step of the process. CLUW is especially pleased to point union women (including those whose plans are “grandfathered” under the law) to NWLC’s new fact sheet, How To Find Out If and When Your Health Plan Will Begin Covering Women’s Preventive Services with No Co-Pay.
It encourages women to call their respective insurance plan and it provides phone scripts (one for women whose plans are grandfathered and another for those who are not), along with suggested questions to ask to find out if the plan is providing the women’s preventive services and details about what services they are providing.
“While we celebrate the preventive provisions about to take effect,” CLUW Pres. See cautions that “we must also remember that opponents of the health care law are trying to weaken it and take away benefits. It’s incumbent on all of us to make certain that we get the truth out on the positive impact of the ACA on America and Americans, especially women and families, to all the women we can reach.”