Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), California's Insurance Commissioner for eight years and a former health care advisor to President Clinton, is happy to report that health coverage for women got a lot better today thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Beginning today, up to 47 million women will be eligible for free preventative health care services.
"As a father to five daughters, I want every woman in America to have access to the best, most affordable health coverage possible. For too long, women have borne the brunt of health care costs in America," Congressman Garamendi said. "The Affordable Care Act is putting women and their doctors back in charge of their healthcare and reducing the ways insurance companies can gouge their customers."
Effective August 1, 2012, tens of millions of American women will be eligible for the following services without co-pays:
Well-woman visits, including annual check-ups to get preventative services and additional visits as deemed necessary by women and their doctors;
Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases;
Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling;
FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling;
Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling;
HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older, aimed at reducing the prevalence of cervical cancer;
Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women; and
HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.
The health care law has already helped women in private plans and Medicare for the first time gain access to potentially life-saving tests and services, such as mammograms, cholesterol screenings, and flu shots without coinsurance or deductibles. Today's announcement builds on these benefits, generally requiring insurance companies to offer, with no co-pay, additional vital screenings and tests to help keep women healthy throughout their lives. These preventive services will be offered without cost sharing beginning today in all new health plans.
Group health plans and issuers that have maintained grandfathered status are not required to cover these services. In addition, certain nonprofit religious organizations, such as churches and schools, are not required to cover these services. The Obama administration will continue to work with all employers to give them the flexibility and resources they need to implement the health care law in a way that protects women's health while respecting religious liberty.
Women with Medicare may already receive such preventive services as annual wellness visits, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for those at risk of osteoporosis and diabetes screening. Approximately 24.7 million women with Medicare used at least one free preventive service in 2011, including the new annual wellness visit.