KENNEWICK, Wash. - One of the popular early reforms under the Affordable Care Act included coverage for preventive services with no co-pays, deductibles or coinsurance. On Aug. 1, this benefit expands to cover additional preventive services for women.
"Women deserve meaningful health coverage," said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. "Eliminating cost-sharing for early, preventive care increases the likelihood that women could access medical services early, before conditions become more serious."
"This annual examination is covered with no de-ductable, no co-pay, it will certainly encourage and make it a lot easier for women to get in," says Dr. Robert Salisbury who works as an OBGYN at Kennewick General Hospital.
Sandi Peck, from the Washington State's Insurance Commissioner's Office says right now, about 50% of women don't get the recommended doctor visits.
"It's a lot cheaper to treat things or screen for healthcare conditions before they become big problems and the reason women were saying they weren't doing it is because of the cost, even if they had insurance," says Peck.
Specific health services for women that now require no cost-sharing include:
· Well-woman visits
· Gestational diabetes screening
· HPV testing
· Counseling for sexually transmitted infections
· Counseling and screening for HIV
· Domestic violence screening
· Breastfeeding supplies
These benefits apply to non-grandfathered plans - meaning plans that you or your employer enrolled in after March 23, 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.
Some employers such as churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations are exempt from covering contraceptives for their employees because of religious objections.
Also, the federal government is proposing regulations to address the objections of non-profit religious organizations that don't want to include contraceptives in their health plans. Under the proposed federal rule, these organizations will not have to subsidize the cost of contraceptives for their employees or refer them to organizations that provide contraceptives. The employer's insurer will offer this coverage to the women directly, at no charge.
"Washington state has been a leader in insurance rights for women, mandating insurance coverage of contraceptives more than a decade ago," said Kreidler. "The Affordable Care Act expands these rights, giving women access to more coverage that directly affects their health and wellbeing."