Preventative Care Benefits for Women Kick in this Week Under the Affordable Care Act
Big news in Obamacare (aka, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA). Yesterday, new preventative health care benefits started kicking in for many Americans and some of you will even get a refund from your insurance provider if they’ve charged you too much.
New Women’s Preventative Care Services
On the preventative care side, technically, the changes won’t kick in until your annual plan renews (or begins). But when it does, women will no longer will have to pay a co-pay for the following 8 services (they will be fully covered by your insurance plan, by law):
- Well-women visits
- Birth control in the form of FDA-approved contraception and contraceptive counseling, but not including drugs that induce abortions
- Breastfeeding counseling, support and supplies
- Gestational diabetes screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and for those at high risk
- HPV DNA testing for women age 30 and older, every three years
- Sexually transmitted infection counseling
- HIV screening and counseling
- Domestic violence screening and counseling
These 8 new covered services join 14 previous women’s preventative care services, 16 for all adults, and 27 services for children that previously kicked in back in 2010 (to little fanfare).
A recent survey showed that a large percentage of American women skipped preventative care because of the cost – much higher than any other industrialized nation.
There is no free lunch, but I can only see this as a positive if it lowers overall insurance premiums for everyone and provides better health care for women. Unwanted pregnancies are expensive. STD treatments are expensive, chronic preventable diseases are expensive.
Insurance companies were heading in this direction already. I’ve highlighted how my HDHP covers preventative visits and I even get HSA bonus incentives for going in for my annual physical. If there is one thing insurance companies are good at, it’s crunching the numbers.
And, most importantly, if these preventable conditions can be prevented because more women are taking advantage of services at no additional charge to them, and it levels the playing field with men’s health care costs? That’s a good thing. That’s not a political stance. It’s reality in the 21st century.
Insurance Premium Refund Checks
The other big news in Obamacare is that insurance companies are officially having their asses handed to them, in the form of a required $1.1 billion in refund checks to Americans.
By yesterday, insurance companies that didn’t spend at least 85% of 2011 premium dollars for large group plans (over 50 employees) on medical care (non administrative costs and/or profit make up the remainder) must refund the difference, through refund checks or discounted future premiums. The limit was 80% for individual or small group plans.
The idea being that insurance companies are forced to keep their costs under control to keep healthcare affordable for everyone. And… it is an election year.
Preventative Care and Insurance Rebate Discussion:
What is your take on these two big Obamacare changes?