No-Cost Preventive Services Benefits Go into Effect for Many Women on January 1

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Women stand to gain numerous benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Many women have already seen their health insurance improve under the act, and many more will benefit when the law becomes fully operational in 2014.

Under the regulation that implements the act’s provision on preventive services, which went into effect August 1, 2012, women are promised the following services with no co-pays:

  • Annual well-woman visits
  • Screening for gestational diabetes
  • Testing for the human papillomavirus, or HPV
  • Counseling for sexually transmitted infections
  • Counseling and screening for HIV
  • Contraceptive methods and counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • Screening and counseling for domestic and interpersonal violence

While the regulation that makes this coverage available without co-pays went into effect on August 1, it does not apply to existing health insurance plans until they renew. Student health plans tend to renew on August 1 of each year, but most other plans, including employer-sponsored plans, tend to renew on January 1 of each year. Most women with employer-sponsored health insurance, therefore, will gain access to these services on January 1, 2013. Fifty-nine percent of all American women have employer-sponsored coverage.

Women need these benefits. Fifty-two percent of women report delaying needed medical care because of cost, and 32 percent of women report giving up basic necessities to pay for health care expenses. Approximately 47 million women will obtain no-cost preventive services under this law.

Despite the clear need, there have been numerous attacks on the regulation. Opponents, including state legislators and employers, have claimed that the requirement to cover contraception infringes on religious liberty, and many of their claims are still pending. Below are a set of resources explaining the regulation of preventive services, how women stand to benefit from it, and what’s at stake.

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