Day two of National Women’s Health Week! Today, women can take the pledge and commit to seeking important check-ups by their doctors. Continue to join us this week as we celebrate National Women’s Health Week!
Here is a quick Q&A of what you need to know – about prevention, women’s health check-ups, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Q: Why are check-ups important, and what does it have to do with the ACA?
A: To ensure that every woman maximizes their health outcomes, health care reform makes it easy – and affordable – for women to receive preventive services and screenings. This is important for reproductive health, sexual health and prevention of chronic illness among women at all life stages.
Q: What does health care reform do to ensure women receive these services?
A: There are many ways that the ACA ensure women’s basic health care needs are met. The ACA mandates certain services are included in all health plans, some benefits have already taken place, some will take place this year, and we will see full implementation – including affordable health care exchanges – in 2014.
Q: What are services are included?
A: Reproductive services, like PAP screenings, will be available to women with no financial barrier (co-pay, deductible, coinsurance) and no OB/GYN referral needed.
Sexual health services – like STI counseling and HIV screening and counseling – will also be available to women with no financial barriers.
Prevention of chronic illnesses – women will soon (August 2012) have access to annual well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screenings, diabetes type 2 screenings for people with high blood pressure, hypertension screenings, contraception and contraceptive counseling, breastfeeding equipment and counseling, and more.
Q: Does this really apply to me, and my private insurance plan?
A: Yes! These benefits regarding cost-sharing and preventive services will apply to all new health insurance plans. The ACA recognizes that most women receive insurance on the private market, through an employer. The preventive services regulations are a win-win for employees and employers. Providing this cost-effective health care will ensure a healthier, and more productive workforce. Most plans will transition to providing the benefits at the start of a new plan year, when your benefits are already being modified (often January 1), but some plans will change so little that they will retain “grandfathered” status and not have to comply with the regulations. It is expected that all plans will change enough in the next few years to necessitate compliance. To be sure that your insurance plan is in compliance, check with them directly and/or pay attention to your annual benefit notice.
Q: Does the ACA provide guidance for overall healthy living?
A: Yes! Health care reform also provides, again with no financial barriers, guidance for women and families to live healthy lives. This includes diet counseling for at-risk individuals, obesity screening, tobacco counseling, depression screenings, alcohol misuse screening and counseling and more.
For more information, check out this interactive tool to find out what screening you should be getting! Or, link here, to find out more you can do for your health on National Women’s Check-Up Day – and to take the pledge!