Starting August 1st*, Wisconsin women have much to celebrate as a new phase of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now offers additional preventive health care coverage without financial barriers. According to the National Women’s Law Center, just four years ago, before the new heath care law was passed, one in four women reported that they didn’t get needed health care because they felt they couldn’t afford it.. Following passage of the law –in the fall of 2010 – certain preventive health care services, like mammograms, blood pressure screenings and other important preventive services, became available to women, with no extra financial burden, like co-pays or deductibles. In Wisconsin, 413,000 women have already been receiving these services without out-of-pocket barriers. As we celebrate a new set of services available to women, we will be blogging today through, August 1st, highlighting each new preventive health service.
HIV Testing and Counseling
Women are, biologically, twice as likely to be infected with HIV – early detection is helpful for managing an HIV infection and reducing risky behaviors assists in prevention. At the AIDS2012 convention, this week, Secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, offered information on new public-private partnerships that will help to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Sebelius also stated reasons the ACA is helping to close the gaps in received drug management services – to help more, lower income individuals with HIV gain access to needed drug management treatments.
To learn more about these public-private partnerships, see the HHS press release from earlier this week.
Early diagnosis is important to ensure patients receive the necessary care management for HIV/AIDS. “Late testers”, as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), are individuals who develop AIDS within one year of being diagnosed with the HIV virus, or are diagnosed with both simultaneously. These individuals are typically diagnosed after advanced progression of the virus, and in 2010 comprised an estimated 27.6% of new diagnoses in Wisconsin. Therefore, in order to reduce – or, hopefully, prevent – transmission it is critical to ensure women have access to testing and appropriate counseling of HIV.
Thanks to the ACA, women will be able to receive these critical services just discussed with no financial barriers, like co-pays, starting August 1st. Women will have access to HIV testing and counseling on a yearly basis – a critical component in early detection and treatment. Further, counseling on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has been shown to reduce risky sex behaviors in patients– but only 28% of patients between the ages of 18 and 44 reported having these discussions with a doctor or nurse, emphasizing the importance this benefit will have for Wisconsin women starting August 1st.
* If you have questions about when these new benefits go into effect for your own private plan, please call the member services number on the back of your insurance card, or contact your employer’s benefits administrator for information about your current coverage.