New preventive health services for women begin August 2012 « Health Insurance Advisory

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new healthcare reform lawThe new healthcare law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), represents comprehensive healthcare reform legislation signed into law on March 23, 2010. It contains numerous provisions designed to protect consumers and promote low cost medical insurance, including many new taxes to pay for the cost.

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New preventive health services for women begin August 2012

Author: Administrator | Aug 07 2011 | Preventive Care Services - New Healthcare Law

When it comes to health, women are often the primary decision maker for their families and the trusted source in circles of friends. They are also key consumers of health care. Women have unique needs and have high rates of chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

While women are more likely to need preventive health care services, they often have less ability to pay. On average, they have lower incomes than men and a greater share of their income is consumed by out-of-pocket health costs. A report by the Commonwealth Fund found that in 2009 more than half of women delayed or avoided preventive care because of cost, as compared to 25% of women in 2007. Removing cost sharing requirements on medical insurance plans, such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance, improves women’s access to important preventive services.

The new healthcare law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act helps make prevention affordable and accessible for all Americans by requiring new medical insurance plans to cover at no charge preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Bright Futures Guidelines recommended by the Academy of Pediatrics.

The new healthcare law also requires insurance companies to cover additional preventive health benefits for women. For the first time, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is adopting new guidelines for women’s preventive services to fill the gaps in current preventive services guidelines for women’s health, ensuring a comprehensive set of preventive services for women.

Previously, preventive services for women had been recommended one-by-one or as part of guidelines targeted at men as well. HHS directed the Institute of Medicine (IOM), for the first time ever, to conduct a scientific review and provide recommendations on specific preventive measures that meet women’s unique health needs and help keep them healthy. HHS used the IOM report issued July 19, 2011 when developing the guidelines being issued today.

New guidelines for women’s preventive services – effective August 1, 2012

Beginning August 2012, new private medical insurance plans must cover the guidelines on women’s preventive services with no cost sharing in plan years starting on or after August 1, 2012. These preventive services include:

  1. Well-woman visits – annual well-woman preventive care visit for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their providers determine they are necessary. These visits will help women and their doctors determine what preventive services are appropriate, and set up a plan to help women get the care they need to be healthy.
  2. Gestational diabetes screening – screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. It will help improve the health of mothers and babies because women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In addition, the children of women with gestational diabetes are at significantly increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant throughout childhood.
  3. HPV DNA testing – women who are 30 or older will have access to high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years, regardless of pap smear results.  Early screening, detection, and treatment have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.
  4. STI counseling, and HIV screening and counseling – sexually-active women will have access to annual counseling on HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These sessions have been shown to reduce risky behavior in patients, yet only 28% of women aged 18 to 44 years reported that they had discussed STIs with a doctor or nurse. In addition, women are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. From 1999 to 2003, the CDC reported a 15% increase in AIDS cases among women, and a 1% increase among men.
  5. Contraception and contraceptive counseling – women will have access to all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. These recommendations do not include abortifacient drugs. Most workers in employer-sponsored plans are currently covered for contraceptives. Family planning services are an essential preventive service for women and critical to appropriately spacing and ensuring intended pregnancies, which results in improved maternal health and better birth outcomes.
  6. Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling – pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their children’s and their own health. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.
  7. Domestic violence screening – screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence should be provided for all women. An estimated 25% of women in the U.S. report being targets of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes. Screening is effective in the early detection and effectiveness of interventions to increase the safety of abused women.

Get the latest news and information regarding the new healthcare law at healthinsuranceadvisory.org. We explain the new healthcare law and help you understand how it benefits you.

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