by Ashley Wheeland & Claire Moshenberg (originally posted on

Want to know how health reform helps women? Not sure what preventive services to ask for? Unclear on which women’s health services will be available this August? We’ve got answers! A few weeks ago, the  Colorado Consumer Health Initiative hosted an informative Facebook chat with MomsRising about the Affordable Care Act.

Here are a few commonly asked questions on women and health reform, with expert answers and resources from Ashley Wheeland from the  Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

What preventive tests and screenings should women be asking for and what costs should we expect?

Ashley: Your insurance company must provide preventive and wellness services to you with no cost sharing, so you don’t have to pay any co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles. However, this is, if you enroll in new plans on or after Sep. 23, 2010, so check with your plan to be sure that its offering you these services at no cost.

There are so many preventive and wellness services that are now free to you and your kids. This page on has a great list of services to ask for for your family.

Some key services to ask for:

    Blood pressure
    Diabetes and cholesterol tests
    Cancer screenings
    Screening and counseling on topics as smoking, weight, nutrition, depression, and alcohol use
    Routine vaccinations
    Services to promote healthy pregnancies such as counseling, screening, and vaccines
    Flu and pneumonia shots

In terms of preventive care for your kids, you can access screenings and counseling to help prevent, detect and treat common childhood health problems like obesity, depression among adolescent children and dental cavities and anemia as well as immunizations like annual flu vaccines and many other childhood vaccinations and boosters. For more information, visit

What are the top three benefits women can enjoy right now because of the Affordable Care Act (health reform)?

Ashley: The top 3 benefits for women are increased access to health coverage for them and their families, lower costs for health coverage, and better choices for quality care. Specifically this means from

Insurance Companies Can’t Deny Coverage to Women. Before the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance companies selling individual policies could deny coverage to women due to pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and having been pregnant. Under the law, insurance companies are already banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. In 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

Women Can Receive Preventive Care Without Copays. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans joining a new health care plan can receive recommended preventive services, like mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits, with no out-of-pocket costs. See a list of preventive services for women. (Preventive services benefits apply if you’re in a new health plan that you joined after March 23, 2010.) Learn about new women’s preventive care guidelines issued August 1, 2011.

Women Pay Lower Health Care Costs. Before the law, women could be charged more for individual insurance policies simply because of their gender. A 22-year-old woman could be charged 150% the premium that a 22-year-old man paid. In 2014, insurers will not be able to charge women higher premiums than they charge men. The law takes strong action to control health care costs, including helping states crack down on excessive premium increases and making sure most of your premium dollars go for your health care.

Can you explain where things stand in regards to the zero-copay preventive health measures for women announced last August?  The contraception issue is obviously getting a lot of press, but are all of the other services still slated to be covered starting in August?

Ashley: The final rule will be implemented in August this year. So women will be able to get preventive services at that point without co-pays. There are many more services being provided under this rule than birth control, even though that is an important health care service millions of women need and want. Preventive services benefits apply if you’re in a new health plan that you joined after March 23, 2010. Learn about new women’s preventive care guidelines issued August 1, 2011

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