Did you know that health insurers must cover at least one preventive doctor appointment per year? If not, you’re not alone. Sixty percent of women don’t know about their free preventive visit, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s hardly surprising. Women often wait until they’re sick or injured to take care of themselves, sometimes with tragic consequences. Many illnesses, like cervical cancer, do not have warning signs until the illness is serious and much more difficult to cure. By getting regular PAP smear screenings and pelvic exams, you can catch cervical cancer early, when it is nearly 100 percent treatable. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a lot of changes were made to ensure women have access to important preventive services. All ACA-compliant plans, along with many other plans, must cover a specific list of services for women without charging copayment or coinsurance. This is true even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. Below are a few of the services provided for free under your health plan:
- Breast Cancer Mammography screenings every 1 to 2 years for women over 40.
- Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling from trained providers, and access to breastfeeding supplies, for pregnant and nursing women.
- Cervical Cancer screening
- Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling for all women.
- Tobacco Use screening and interventions for all women, and expanded counseling for pregnant tobacco users.
- Well-woman visits to get recommended services for women under 65.
In addition to routine services, all health plans must cover maternity services and newborn care, and employers must provide time and space for breast feeding. Woman can no longer be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and we cannot be charged more for insurance based on gender. As long as the doctor is in-network and the visit is for preventive care, then you don’t have to worry about a co-pay, coinsurance or deductible. Keep in mind that out-of-pocket expenses may occur if:
- A patient receives other services during the same visit that are not preventive
- The services are used to treat, diagnose or monitor an illness, injury or health problem
When you first enroll in a plan, it can be overwhelming. But to save you time and money in the long-run, make sure you read through your documents to know what’s covered. All insurers are required to give you a document called a “summary of benefits and coverage.” If you don’t have it, most insurers have a copy online or can mail you one upon request. If you get coverage through your employer, the insurer works with your employer to provide these summaries. If you want to continue to be there to care for your loved ones, you need to care for yourself. Make your health a priority. Schedule a doctor’s appointment today, and make sure you continue to receive regular preventive screenings. For more health insurance tips visit bcbsm.com/101 or follow the hashtag #Covered101 on our social channels. If you have a specific question, please submit your query online through our Customer Action Center. Photo Credit: COMSALUD