President Barack Obama's landmark health care reform legislation celebrated another milestone last week as a new menu of preventive services became available without cost to American women for the first time in history.
Beginning Aug. 1, new health insurance plans are now required to cover at no additional cost an extended range of preventive services aimed at taking care of our caregivers, women who often put family before self when it comes to the kinds of regular health screenings that can save a life.
Preventive services now available to women at no additional out-of-pocket expense include:
- Well-woman visits.
- Screening for gestational diabetes, one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
- Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling.
- Relationship and domestic violence screening and counseling.
- FDA-approved contraception and contraceptive counseling.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) screening and counseling.
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STI) counseling.
Menu expanded from 2010
The new covered list of women's preventive services follows a previous, more expansive menu of services that became available without cost-sharing two years ago on new policies issued after Sept. 23, 2010. That list includes:
- Breast cancer mammography and chemoprevention counseling.
- Screening for cervical cancer, Chlamydia infection, gonorrhea, osteoporosis, syphillus.
- Pregnant women screenings for anemia, urinary tract infection, hepatitis B and Rh incompatibility.
- Tobacco screening and counseling.
- BRCA counseling about genetic testing for high-risk women.
For the men and women
As of September 2010, the Affordable Care Act already covers at no out-of-pocket cost the following for both men and women:
- Alcohol screening and counseling.
- Blood pressure screening.
- Cholesterol screenings at certain ages.
- Colonoscopies for adults over 50.
- Type 2 diabetes screening.
- Obesity screening and counseling.
- A wide range of immunizations for adults and children.
The list of preventive services provided by health care reform to children without additional cost to their parents is longer than both of the above lists. The list of preventive benefits for seniors is impressive, too. I encourage you to check them out at healthcare.gov.
Why, you may ask, aren't health insurance companies storming 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to protest all these government-mandated giveaways?
Simply put, healthy people cost them less. If's far cheaper to prevent and treat disease at an early stage than to combat it when it's advanced.
For women, the real icing on this particular bran muffin is yet to come. Beginning in 2014, health insurers will no longer be able to charge women up to 50 percent more for health insurance, drawing to a close centuries of treating womanhood as a preexisting condition.
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