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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 10:38 pm | Fair 45º


New Coverage Takes Effect for Women’s Preventive Health Services

Capps hails guaranteed insurance requirement under federal reform law

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, has announced that, starting Wednesday, all new health plans will be required to cover women’s preventive health services upon the beginning of their plan year, including an annual well-woman visit and contraceptive services without a co-payment or cost-sharing requirement.

These new benefits are made possible by the health insurance reform law and marks the first time insurance companies must cover a full range of preventive health services for women. Nationwide it is estimated that 47 million women will gain guaranteed access to these preventive health services, including 5.3 million women in California.

“Today marks a tremendous milestone for women’s health and equality in America,” Capps said. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, nearly 50 million women will now have guaranteed coverage of the preventive health services needed to keep them both physically and fiscally healthy. No longer will women be unable to access the care they need because just they are women or because they can’t afford it. Instead, women will be able to consult with their doctors and get the care they need, when they need it, without having to sacrifice other household expenses.”

“At Planned Parenthood, we see a patient’s need for affordable health care every single day,” said Christine Lyon, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura & San Luis Obispo Counties Inc. “We know how critical the birth control benefit is for women and families. These preventive benefits are an economic issue for families as they struggle to decide whether to pay for birth control or groceries.”

The insurance coverage requirement will go into effect at the start of each new plan year, a date that varies from insurance company to insurance company. For example, if an insurance plan year starts on Nov. 1, that is the date on which the beneficiary is able to access the preventive services without a co-payment.

Studies have shown that women are more likely to delay or avoid seeking care — including not filling a prescription, skipping a recommended test or treatment, or putting off regular cancer screenings — because of costs of the procedure or medication. Research has also shown that even moderate co-payments can cause women, especially those with low- and moderate-incomes, to forgo needed preventive care.

A complete list of the women’s preventive health services that insurance companies must cover without a co-payment or cost sharing requirement is included below.

» Well-woman visits

» Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling

» Contraceptive methods and counseling

» Screening and counseling for domestic partner violence

» Screening for gestational diabetes

» Screening and counseling for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV

» DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV

Last year, Capps led efforts in the House of Representatives to ensure that health plans would be required to include a full range of preventive services for women in their benefits package. Capps and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois submitted testimony to the Institute of Medicine, signed by 42 other members of Congress, in support of requiring that contraceptive services be included as a preventive health service in all new insurance plans. IOM agreed with Capps and her colleagues.

Capps, Schakowsky and 81 of their colleagues then wrote to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging the adoption of the IOM’s recommendations of critical preventive services for women.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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