Good news – you might be eligible for the Affordable Care Act. This could mean you get free preventative health care services that will prevent illness and disease and keep you healthy.
Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year. In fact, they account for 75% of the nation’s health expenses. However, these chronic diseases are often preventable.
President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010. Over a four-year period, it will require most health plans to cover suggested preventive services in order to make office visits, tests and treatments affordable and accessible for Americans.
- 2011 – 54 million privately insured Americans had access to preventive services without cost sharing.
- August 1, 2011 – HHS embraced additional Guidelines for Women’s Preventive Services such as counseling, contraception, support for breastfeeding equipment and domestic violence screening.
- August 1, 2012 – Approximately 47 million women gained guaranteed access to supplementary preventive services. Plus, new private health plans must cover the guidelines on women’s preventive services with no cost sharing.
- 2013 – The Health Insurance Marketplace Individuals and small businesses can buy affordable and qualified health benefit plans in this new transparent and competitive insurance marketplace.
- 2014 – Tax Credits for Families will make insurance affordable for middle class Americans between 100% and 400% of the poverty line.
Since 2011, the Affordable Care Act has been responsible for thousands saying ‘goodbye’ to copayments, co-insurances or deductibles. Savings like these apply to those with job-related health plans or individual health insurance policies fashioned after March 23, 2010.
With these innovative benefits, the Affordable Care Act makes wellness and prevention services affordable and accessible, especially for women. Studies have shown that women often face difficulties when getting health care because of out-of-pocket health costs and lower incomes than men.
Check out how this Affordable Care Act can help you and your loved ones:
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol tests
- Cancer screenings (mammograms and colonoscopies)
- Counseling (losing weight, healthy eating, depression, smoking and alcohol use)
- Regular well-baby and well-child visits (from birth to age 21)
- Routine vaccinations (measles, meningitis or polio)
- Counseling, screening, and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies
- Flu and pneumonia shots
A 2009 study by the Commonwealth Fund discovered that more than half of women delayed or avoided necessary preventative care because of fees. Removing cost-sharing allows women to take advantage of more preventive services than they would otherwise. One particular study found that 9% more women received mammograms when cost sharing was removed. This is a big deal when one considers that regular mammograms can alleviate skyrocketing medical bills in the future.
Be aware that there may be a few ‘hiccups’ that could make it challenging for you to receive the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act:
- If you doctor provides a preventive service during your office visit and it is not the primary purpose of your visit, you may have to pay some additional costs to pay.
- If your health care network is limited to specific providers, your preventive services may only be available through the in-network provider. A fee may be assessed if you access services from an out-of-network health provider.
- If your plan has been “grandfathered,” these benefits may not be available to you.
Consult your health care provider to determine which preventive services are covered for you. Should you have questions about the new provisions, contact your insurer, plan administrator or insurance agency.
Time will tell how it works and if it works, but for now it is all we have!