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New Health Benefits Begin for Women

8 prevention-related services available at no cost

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Most health insurance plans that begin or renew after Aug. 1 will be required to cover several preventive care services at no cost to women.

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Before today’s coverage expansion, many plans didn't cover basic women's preventive care or else charged deductibles and copays. The new rule, part of the Affordable Care Act health reform legislation, is expected to benefit 47 million women age 15 through 64. Since insurers have varying start dates for new plan years, coverage will begin for individual women at different times.

“This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, in announcing the new benefits.

Based on recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, the eight new prevention-related services are:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
  • Contraception, and contraceptive education and counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling
  • Human papillomavirus virus testing for women 30 or older
  • Sexually transmitted disease counseling for sexually active women
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually active women

Several other no-cost preventive care screenings — including mammograms to detect breast cancer and Pap smears to detect cervical cancer — went into effect soon after the health care law was enacted in 2010. Last year, similar preventive care benefits were extended to people with Medicare.

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A look at the "Choosing Wisely" campaign by the ABIM, which suggests ways to lower health care costs by cutting back on unnecessary diagnostic treatment.

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