HHS Announces Free Preventive Services for Women under Health Reform

by Rebecca Farley on August 3, 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week announced new guidelines for preventive services for women that must be covered at no out-of-pocket cost under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Beginning on August 1, 2012, new insurance plans will be required to cover the following services with no co-pays:

  • Well-woman visits;
  • Screening for gestational diabetes;
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
  • Sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
  • Domestic violence screening and counseling.

The new guidelines will not apply to “grandfathered” plans – that is, existing plans that do not make major changes to their benefits. In addition, plans will retain the flexibility to control costs and promote efficient delivery of care using reasonable medical management. For example, plans may continue to charge cost-sharing for branded drugs if a generic version is available that is just as effective and safe for the patient to use.

The Health Resources and Services Administration has created a helpful chart outlining the type of preventive service, the HHS guidelines for health insurance coverage, and the frequency of the service.


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