Women’s Preventive Services in the Affordable Care
Act: What’s New as of August 1, 2012?
The health care law makes preventive care more accessible and affordable to millions of Americans. This is especially important to women, who are more likely than men to avoid needed health care, including preventive care, because of cost.
- NWLC Fact Sheet: “Women’s Preventive Services in the Affordable Care Act: What’s New as of August 1, 2012?”
- NWLC Resource: “How To Find Out If and When Your Health Plan Will Begin Covering Women’s Preventive Services with No Co-Pay”
- Brochure: "How the Health Care Law is Helping Women and Their Families"
- HealthCare.gov: "Preventive Services Covered under the Affordable Care Act"
To help address cost barriers and make sure all women have access to needed care, the new preventive health care provisions in the law go into effect on August 1 as new insurance plans enter their plan year. 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, including:
- 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
Doctor visits for preventive care can ensure that women receive needed services, screening and counseling. Coverage of well-woman visits without a co-pay will ensure that they are within reach of all women.
Breastfeeding provides important long-term health benefits for mothers and their children. Lactation counseling can provide a new mother much-needed support, and supplies such as breast pumps allow women to maintain their milk supply when their child is unable to breastfeed directly or when they are away from their child. Both are important to successful breastfeeding and for mothers and children to get the health benefits that lactation affords.
Contraceptive Methods and Counseling
The full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods is included the package of preventive health services. Affordable birth control helps women plan their families, prevent unintended pregnancies, and improve health outcomes for their children and themselves. Increased access to birth control has been linked directly with declines in maternal and infant mortality.
Screening and Counseling for Domestic Partner Violence
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that women in the U.S. get approximately two million injuries from domestic violence each year, making it vitally important that health care providers use every tool at their disposal to identify and help survivors of intimate partner violence.
Screening for Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes can endanger a woman’s health and jeopardize her pregnancy. Testing for gestational diabetes and access to well-woman visits, including prenatal care with no co-pays or deductibles, means that expectant mothers will know what steps they need to take to have a healthy pregnancy.
Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections
Routine visits to the gynecologist improve women’s health and potentially save lives by helping prevent, detect and treat a variety of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In addition to diagnosing and treating STIs before complications arise, doctors can counsel their patients about preventive measures such as vaccination, safer sex and routine testing for themselves and their partners.