On August 1, a part of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect. The Women’s Preventive Services provision of the law requires that certain services be offered to patients with no cost sharing (i.e. no co-payment). As of today, any new plans will have to cover a list of preventive services developed by the Institute of Medicine. These include FDA approved contraceptives, HPV testing every three years and well woman visits.
However, these do not apply to grandfathered plans or plans already in existence. For example, if you already have health insurance, your new plan may start January 1, 2013. At that point your insurer would be required to cover these services with no co-payment.
Other patient provisions in the Affordable Care Act that have already gone into effect include rebates for those who have hit the Medicare donut hole, allowing children under 26 years of age to stay on their parents’ insurance plans, tax credits to small employers for providing health insurance, prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions for children and free Medicare preventive services. For more on the provisions, or to find insurance, please see www.healthcare.gov.