By Chaer Robert, Director of The Denver Women’s Commission
In a spiral notebook – my book of lists- I keep one titled “When I have the money”.
There I list things I should or want to do or buy that I don’t currently have the
money for. I preserve my thought and intention while delaying action. I reassess the
list from time to time, add new items and drop older ones or reassess urgency. Ever
since my health plan dropped co-pays for preventative services, few health related
items make my list.
Although others may not keep written lists, I think most women operate this
way. They have good intentions, but delay in favor or more urgent priorities.
Like the needs of their families. Unfortunately about half of women postpone
their preventative health visits . By definition preventative health services, while
IMPORTANT, are not URGENT.
The Affordable Care Act promotes preventative care. Based on scientific evaluations
of the costs and benefits by the US Preventative Services Task Force, many
preventative care services –including mammograms and cervical cancer screenings-
-now are available without co-payment, co-insurance or deductibles for new health
plans and under Medicare.
Beginning the first plan year after August 1, 2012, new health plans must also
include additional women’s preventative services without cost-sharing. These
women-specific services named were based on a scientific review by the Institute of
Medicine, then adopted by the US Department of Health and Human Services:
●Annual well woman visits, at which women are provided with preventive and
other medical services
●Screening for gestational diabetes for pregnant women
●Human papillomavirus testing (HPV) for women over 30, preventing cervical
●Counseling for sexually transmitted infections if sexually active
●Counseling and screening for human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) for all
sexually active women
●Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling for every birth
●Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence
●Contraceptive methods and counseling
While all of these services are very important, well woman visits serve as a
foundation for good health. At these visits, women receive all necessary preventive
services, like Pap smears and breast exams, so that health issues can be prevented,
identified, and treated in early stages. We also get the chance to actually talk to our
doctors, helping us make informed and empowered decisions about our own health.
Before the Affordable Care Act, these visits were often associated with a copay,
which discouraged the use of cost-saving preventive care. On August 1st, this cost
will no longer be a barrier. In fact, over 45 million women are expected to benefit
from access to copay-free preventive services like well woman visits. Preventive
health services should never be on your ‘When I have the money’ list. Next week,
millions of women can cross it out.
For more information on The Affordable Care Act’s coverage of preventive services for women, click here.