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The 22 Healthcare Services Provided to Women for Free

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The 22 Healthcare Services Provided to Women for Free


Updated: June 13, 2019    Published: December 12, 2014

Preventive care is important to healthy individuals and communities. Chronic diseases, which are typically the most preventable, are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths each year. Nearly half of adults has at least one.[1]

Yet, many women miss out on services and screenings that alert them to chronic health problems early on, when they are most treatable.

A 2013 Kaiser Women’s Health Survey found that 20 percent of women 18 to 64 reported putting off or postponing preventive services in the past year due to cost.[2] Research shows that cost sharing, even when it is moderate, reduces the likelihood that women will seek preventive care such as mammograms and Pap smears. In one study, when cost-sharing was removed, the rate of women who got a mammogram increased as much as 9 percent.[3]

The Affordable Care Act attempts to improve access to preventive care by removing this cost barrier. The healthcare reform law requires that certain preventive services for women be included in health insurance coverage without cost-sharing requirements.

These preventive services are not subject to coinsurance, copayments or your deductible when you visit a network provider. They are, essentially, free.

At least 4 in 10 American women are unaware of this coverage[4]—coverage that 48.5 million women are estimated to benefit from. This preventive service package has been linked to a quadruple increase in oral contraception prescriptions dispensed with no copayment, leading to a $483.3 million reduction in out-of-pocket costs.[5] Birth control is only one of these benefits, though.

Free Preventative Services for Women:

All qualified health insurance plans sold today – including ACA and Medicare coverage – include these 22 preventive services for women[6],[7],[8]:

  1. Anemia screening — On a routine basis for pregnant women
  2. Breast cancer genetic test counseling (BRCA) — Higher-risk women
  3. Breast cancer mammography screenings — Women over 40, every one to two years
  4. Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling — Higher-risk women
  5. Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling — Comprehensive lactation support and counseling by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period; costs for renting breastfeeding equipment; in conjunction with each birth
  6. Cervical cancer screening — Sexually active women
  7. Chlamydia infection screening — Younger women and women at higher risk
  8. Contraception and contraceptive counseling — All FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity, as prescribed—may not apply to women who participate in group health plans sponsored by religious employers
  9. Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling — All women
  10. Folic acid supplements — Women who may become pregnant
  11. Gestational diabetes screening — Between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and at the first prenatal visit for pregnant women identified as high-risk for diabetes
  12. Gonorrhea screening — Higher-risk women
  13. Hepatitis B screening — Pregnant women, at first prenatal visit
  14. HIV screening and counseling — Annual for sexually active women
  15. Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing — Starting at age 30 and no more frequently than every three years for women with normal cytology results
  16. Osteoporosis screening — Women over 60, dependent on risk factors
  17. Rh incompatibility screening — All pregnant women, followup testing for higher-risk women
  18. Sexually transmitted infections counseling — Annual for sexually active women
  19. Syphilis screening — All pregnant women and other women at increased risk
  20. Tobacco use screening and interventions — All women, expanded for pregnant women who use tobacco
  21. Urinary tract or other infection screening — Pregnant women
  22. Well-women visits — Annual visits for recommended preventive services that are age and developmentally appropriate, including preconception care and many services necessary for prenatal care. The visit should also include other preventive services, when appropriate.

The Affordable Care Act also covers additional preventive services for children.

Assess your health plan

If you currently have a grandfathered health insurance plan — coverage in effect prior to 1/1/2014 — does it include these preventive services? If not, what are you waiting for? Investigate your plan options and make the switch.

If you shop for modern health plans, you may be eligible for a premium tax credit that lowers your monthly premium rate. Use the subsidy calculator to see if you qualify.

Health insurance plans sold today have special benefits for #womenshealth. Click To Tweet

Get preventive

If you already have coverage that includes these preventive services, have you used them? Schedule your well-woman visit as soon as possible to get the most out of your coverage.

When you go, know your benefits and talk to your doctor about which screenings and services are right for you. A Kaiser study found that while the majority of women, 82 percent, had recent checkups, significant percentages did not engage in preventive counseling on key health topics such as smoking (44 percent), alcohol and drug use (31 percent), mental health (41 percent), and diet and exercise (70 percent) during these visits.[9]

This appointment may reveal a new slate of concerns, or a clean bill of health. Consider your results when planning for the future.

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[1] U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “National Prevention Strategy: America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness.” Last updated Jan. 17, 2014.

[2] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. “Preventive Services Covered by Private Health Plans Under the Affordable Care Act.” Oct. 28, 2014.

[3] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Affordable Care Act Rules on Expanding Access to Preventive Services for Women.”

[4] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Visualizing Health Policy: Preventive Services for Women and the ACA.” May 14, 2014.

[5] Burke, Amy and Adelle Simons. “Increased Coverage of Preventive Services with Zero Cost-Sharing Under the Affordable Care Act.” ASPE Issue Brief. June 27, 2014.

[6] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Preventive Services Covered Under the Affordable Care Act.”

[7] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Health Resources and Services Administration. “Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines.”

[8] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Affordable Care Act Rules on Expanding Access to Preventive Services for Women.”

[9] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Visualizing Health Policy: Preventive Services for Women and the ACA.” May 14, 2014.

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