How the Affordable Care Act Affects Women Starting Today

The federal health-care law gives insured women access to eight free prevention-related services.

By: Melissa Romero

Today marks the start of women receiving preventive services at no charge under the health-care law. Some 47 million insured women in the US now have access to eight prevention-related services at no charge.

The services are:

1) Well-woman visits. This includes the annual or preventive visit to the gynecologist.

2) Gestational diabetes screening. This service for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant joins health services for pregnant women already provided under the health-care law, including folic acid supplements and hepatitis B and anemia screenings.

3) Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.

4) FDA-approved contraceptive methods, education, and counseling. This does not include drugs that induce abortions.

5) Breastfeeding support and counseling. This includes breastfeeding equipment.

6) HPV DNA testing. Every three years, women ages 30 and older can receive this test.

7) Sexually transmitted infection counseling for sexually active women.

8) HIV screening and counseling for sexually active women.

In addition, many private plans will cover regular well-baby and well-child visits at no charge.

However, there are some caveats. Group health plans that have been grandfathered in are not required to cover those services; neither are religious organizations such as churches and schools.

Still, the additions are likely to encourage women to take preventive measures into their own hands, with the hope being that women will be able to catch and treat serious conditions at an earlier stage, health secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in written statement to Huffington Post. For example, one study found that the rate of women getting a mammogram went up 9 percent when cost sharing was removed.

For more information on the new preventive benefits for women, visit healthcare.gov.