July 31, 2012
Harkin Welcomes Health Care Law Free Preventive Benefits for Women
Starting August 1st, 47 million women will now have access to services, including more than 500,000 in Iowa
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today welcomed an announcement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that women will now have access to additional free preventive services under the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Beginning August 1st, 47 million women, including 519,908 in Iowa, will have greater control over their health care and access to eight new prevention-related health care services without paying more out of their own pocket.
Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the author of the prevention title in the Affordable Care Act.
“I fought hard to include provisions in the health reform law that focus on preventing disease before it starts, rather than only treating it after the fact. We know this approach saves lives and money. These new services for women are critical to help transform our current sick care system into a true health care system,” said Senator Harkin. “Congressional Republicans will continue their ideology-driven campaign to repeal the health reform law. I pledge to fight to protect access to comprehensive health care for all Americans—including millions of women—who stand to benefit as we continue to implement the Affordable Care Act.”
Previously, some insurance companies did not cover these preventive services for women at all under their health plans, while some women had to pay deductibles or copays for the care they needed to stay healthy. The new rules in the health care law requiring coverage of these services take effect at the next renewal date – on or after Aug. 1—for most health insurance plans. For the first time ever, women will have access to even more life-saving preventive care free of charge.
The eight new prevention-related services are:
• Well-woman visits.
• Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
• Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
• FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
• Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
• HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
• Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.
• HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.
The health care law has already helped women in private plans and Medicare for the first time gain access to potentially life-saving tests and services, such as mammograms, cholesterol screenings, and flu shots without coinsurance or deductibles. Today’s announcement builds on these benefits, requiring insurance companies to offer, with no copay, additional vital screenings and other services to help keep women healthy throughout their lives.
These services are based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, which relied on independent physicians, nurses, scientists, and other experts as well as evidence-based research to develop its recommendations. These preventive services will be offered without cost sharing beginning today in all new health plans.
To learn more about the health care services you may be eligible for at no extra charge under the Affordable Care Act, go to http://www.healthcare.gov/prevention
For information about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on the number of adult and adolescent women eligible for the preventive services at no charge after Aug. 1, 2012, see http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/womensPreventiveServicesACA/ib.shtml