CINCINNATI - A provision of President Obama's Affordable Care Act goes into effect today. This requires health insurance plans to provide certain benefits, like contraception to women for free.
There are eight new provisions that the Obama administration says will help women get the basic services they need.
According to the governments Health Care website , the eight new additional women’s preventive services that will be covered without cost-sharing requirements include:
- Well-woman visits: This would include an annual well-woman preventive care visit for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their health care providers determine they are necessary. These visits will help women and their health care providers determine what preventive services are appropriate, and set up a plan to help women get the care they need to be healthy.
- Gestational diabetes screening: This screening is 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.
- 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.
- STI counseling: Sexually-active women will have access to annual counseling on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These sessions have been shown to reduce risky behavior in patients, yet only 28 percent of women aged 18-44 years reported that they had discussed STIs with a doctor or nurse.
- HIV screening and counseling: Sexually-active women will have access to annual counseling on HIV. Women are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. From 1999 to 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 15% increase in AIDS cases among women, and a 1% increase among men.
- 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. Contraception has additional health benefits like reduced risk of cancer and protection against osteoporosis.
- 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 health and that of their children. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.
- Interpersonal and domestic violence screening and counseling: Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence should be provided for all adolescent and adult women. An estimated 25% of women in the United States 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.
While the law goes into effect today, most women will not be eligible for co-pay free birth control today. The ABC news report , "Fact Checking Free Birth Control Day" explains the free birth control provision. It says that only women with private insurance plans will be affect.
There are about 57 million women with private plans. Of those women, if their plan has not change since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in March of 2010, it can be grandfathered in and does not have to adhere to the no co-pay rules.
The Obama administration says that by next year about half of large employer insurance plans and about one-third of small employer plans will continue to fall under the grandfather clause and will not be required to provide free contraception.
The ABC report says it may take a year before the co-pay free benefits take effect for women whose plans have changed since March 2010.
The bottom line: if you didn't buy an individual health insurance plan this year, your odds of getting free birth control today are slim.
We talked to Planned Parenthood about the changes today and they think it is a positive change. They explained a new benefit called the Ohio Limited Family Planning Medicaid Extension. "It will allow individuals who make up to $30,000 a year to receive family planning benefits at no-cost. You can visit your local Planned Parenthood office