One of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, is that every American woman with a new, ACA-approved health care plan or non-grandfathered private plan will receive preventive health screenings. Under the ACA, these screenings do not require a copayment or deductible. Even if a woman has not yet met her plan’s deductible, she will not need to pay out-of-pocket costs for these preventive screenings.
What Are Preventive Health Screenings?
Preventive health screenings help healthy individuals to stay healthy. These screenings are routine, diagnostic medical tests that are conducted on healthy individuals to detect health issues while they’re in their earliest stages.
What Women’s Health Screenings Are Provided Under ObamaCare?
There are a number of preventive health screenings and services that are offered to women without cost-sharing as a result of the ACA. These preventive screenings include:
- Annual well-woman visits – Well-woman visits cover a wide range of preventive and screening services for women under age 65. Adult women can obtain recommended preventive screenings and services if their health care provider deems it necessary for them to get screened for certain health concerns depending upon age, family history, or other risk factors.
- Contraceptive methods and counseling – Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 30, 2014, all plans were required to cover FDA-approved contraceptives, as well as emergency contraceptives such as Plan B and “ella.” However, the highest court in the nation that declared that some privately-held companies can refuse to cover contraception for female employees. The ruling, which appeared on the Supreme Court’s website, stated that “as applied to closely held corporations, the HHS [Health and Human Services] regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993].” As of this ruling, for-profit companies that have a religious or moral objection to contraception are not obliged to offer contraceptives to female employees.
- Pap smear – A pap test is recommended for women over the age of 21 annually or every three years if pap test results are normal.
- Cervical cancer screening - A pap test includes screening for cervical cancer, which, if detected early, is highly and successfully treatable.
- Breast cancer screenings and mammograms – The ACA extends a number of preventive screenings and services to women to help detect breast cancer at the earliest, most treatable stage possible. These screenings include mammograms for women over 40, and BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 testing for women with a family history of breast cancer, as well as genetic counseling.
- DNA testing for specific strains of HPV – Every three years, women over the age of 30 should be screened for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus which, if left untreated, may develop into cervical cancer.
- HIV screenings - All sexually active women can receive annual screenings for the human immune-deficiency virus (HIV). Screening for the virus can help women to manage their condition before it morphs into AIDS.
- Screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV - All sexually active women can receive screening and counseling for sexually transmitted infections.
- Counseling and screening for domestic or interpersonal violence – A study by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) notes that one out of every four women will suffer domestic violence in her lifetime and that each year, 1.3 million women are victims of physical abuse at the hands of a partner or spouse. Under the ACA, this provision encourages women to seek counseling and screening for violence in the home or within a current or former relationship.
- Prenatal screenings – Women face specific preventive health needs as adults, especially if they become pregnant. Certain supplements and screenings will be recommended for pregnant women, such as infection screenings, Hepatitis B screenings, folic acid supplements, and others. Pregnant women can also receive an Rh incompatibility screening for a condition that results if the mother-to-be has Rh-negative blood and her baby is Rh-positive.
- Gestational diabetes screening - Gestational diabetes has been identified as one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases. Pregnant women who are between 24 and 28 weeks along with their pregnancy can be screened for this disorder. Additionally, women who have been identified as high-risk for diabetes can be screened for diabetes during their first prenatal visit.
- Osteoporosis screening – Women over the age of 60 can receive bone density testing and screenings for osteoporosis.
Women who take advantage of the preventive screenings offered by ACA-approved plans are better equipped to take charge of their health. Regular, recommended screenings offer allow women to be more knowledgeable about their bodies and in-tune with when they feel something may be wrong.