Thanks to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act—which the Supreme Court found constitutional in June—all insurers are required to provide women with several new health services with no additional co-pays or costs, effective August 1, 2012.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new mandate for women’s preventive services and discussed how the Affordable Care Act is making prevention of illness affordable and accessible for everyone.
“All insurance policies will be required to cover new vital care that women need to stay healthy and they’ll have to cover the care without charging women anything out of pocket,” said Sebelius.
Services for women that will now be free of charge include annual well-woman checkups, gynecological care like contraceptives, Pap smears and mammograms; help for new moms and moms-to-be, such as gestational diabetes screenings and support for breastfeeding; screenings and counseling for sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV; and better services for survivors of domestic violence.
Forty-seven million women covered by insurance are now able to access these new services, well as the other 14 free preventive service benefits that have already taken effect.
Not all women with insurance will have access to these new services—a few plans that existed before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law may be exempt.
Though the Supreme Court ruled that the states have the right to decide whether to expand Medicaid coverage, another component of the Affordable Care Act, these preventive health services are at hand and ready to help women. Our country spends more money on health care than any other country yet has the lowest life expectancy rates in the developed world.
Unfortunately, women are key consumers of health care and have a higher rate of chronic diseases than men. By expanding Medicaid and taking advantage of preventive services for women, deaths from chronic illnesses will decrease–and ultimately decrease the government spending for healthcare.