The Affordable Care Act passed in March 2010 required that health insurance plans cover preventive care, but exactly which services would be required to be covered (with no cost sharing), was not fleshed out at the writing of the law. The Department of Health and Human Services then looked to the Institutes of Medicine to determine which benefits should be included.
The IOM announced their recommendations today that HHS include a number of essential services should be covered without share of cost, to improve the health and well-being of women. The list of recommendations includes:
- improved screening for cervical cancer, counseling for sexually transmitted infections, and counseling and screening for HIV;
- a fuller range of contraceptive education, counseling, methods, and services so that women can better avoid unwanted pregnancies and space their pregnancies to promote optimal birth outcomes;
- services for pregnant women including screening for gestational diabetes and lactation counseling and equipment to help women who choose to breastfeed do so successfully;
- at least one well-woman preventive care visit annually for women to receive comprehensive services; and
- screening and counseling for all women and adolescent girls for interpersonal and domestic violence in a culturally sensitive and supportive manner
The most controversial of this list of course is the recommendation that insurers cover contraception. And despite the fact that this is included as part of a comprehensive range of women’s reproductive health services, including contraceptive education and counseling, it is likely to be attacked as a gateway to or form of abortion rather than a proven means of improving the lives of women and optimize birth outcomes.
HHS will now decide whether to take the IOM’s recommendations. If you believe that would like to take action to ensure that women have access to contraception and other reproductive health services, please sign NARAL’s petition by clicking here.
You can read the IOM’s report by clicking here.