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The Health Care Law's 10 Essential Benefits

The Affordable Care Act ensures you’ll have access to these medical and wellness services

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Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

Physicals, vaccines and well visits

7. Preventive and Wellness Services

Many experts believe this benefit could help rein in the nation's rising medical costs. The idea is to get people to see doctors and make healthier choices before they get sick and run up medical bills. For example, you may be allowed a free "wellness visit" annually with your doctor to discuss your health. Beyond that, the law instructs insurers to provide all of the 50 preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force at no extra cost.

Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

Lab work and scans

8. Laboratory Services

While the law codifies the full set of preventive screening tests — including prostate exams and Pap smears — that individual and small-group insurers must cover, you can still be billed for "diagnostic" tests that doctors order when you have symptoms of disease. Costs can range from $20 for a lab test to 30 percent of a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI).

Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

Dental and vision care for kids

9. Pediatric Care

Under the law, children under age 19 will be able to get their teeth cleaned twice a year, as well as receive X-rays, fillings and medically necessary orthodontia. In addition, children under age 19 will be entitled to an eye exam and one pair of glasses or set of contact lenses a year. Relatively few health plans cover children's dental or vision services today.

Affordable Care Act (Oliver Munday)

Care for mothers and children

10. Maternity and Newborn Care

The law classifies prenatal care as a preventive service that must be provided at no extra cost. And it requires insurers to cover childbirth as well as the newborn infant's care. These maternity benefits are a welcome breakthrough for young people, as two-thirds of individual plans have traditionally excluded this type of coverage.

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