August 1st marks a big day for women under the Affordable Care Act as multiple provisions go into effect, including free birth control. Eight new preventative services go into effect for new health insurance plans at no additional cost.
The eight services are:
- Annual well-woman visit: preventative care visit for women to receive necessary preventative services
- Gestational diabetes screening: for women 24-28 weeks pregnant or who are at high-risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Creates healthier mothers and babies.
- HPV DNA testing: Women over 30 will have access to HPV DNA testing every three years.
- STI counseling: reduces risky behavior in women 18-44 when conducted with a doctor or nurse.
- HIV screening and counseling: Combating a 15% rise in contraction of the disease by women.
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Encourages healthier mothers and children while providing resources.
- Contraceptive and contraception counseling: Access to FDA approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education. Does not include abortifacient drugs.
- Interpersonal/domestic violence screening and counseling: Addressing the 25% of women who will be subjected to violence from an intimate partner.
The new rules go beyond free birth control and extend into preventative services that many women have found unaffordable. Up until this point, many of these services have only been available with high deductibles or copayments.
The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the new rules will apply to 47 million women once their health plans are renewed.
Except for the free birth control rule, the changes have met little resistance. The only pushback has come from religious universities and health centers who have another year to comply and the Obama administration is seeking a compromise with those providers.
The free services should detect health issues earlier at more treatable stages. Other preventative services including mammograms, cholesterol screenings, and flu shots at no extra cost have already gone into effect because of the ACA.