Newburyport city councilor at-large
Women’s preventative care now covered
To the editor:
On Aug. 1, 2012, the Affordable Care Act’s provision to include coverage for women’s preventive health services takes effect. Health Quarters Inc., which provides comprehensive family planning and reproductive health care to women and men in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley, believes the White House and Congress made the right decision for women’s health when they added the requirement that employers provide this coverage directly to their health insurance plan beneficiaries with no cost-sharing, resulting in greater access to preventive health services for women.
Effective on the member’s plan renewal date, health plans will cover women’s preventive health care services with no cost-share for most members when those services are rendered by a provider in the member’s plan network. These services include annual well-women visits for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their providers determine they are necessary; gestational diabetes screening for women between 24 to 28 weeks of gestation and at the first prenatal visits for women at high risk of developing gestational diabetes; human papillomavirus DNA testing every three years for women age 30 and older, regardless of pap smear results; annual counseling and screening for sexually transmitted infections; annual counseling an screening for human immune-deficiency virus (HIV); contraceptive methods and counseling, including access to all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education !and counseling; breastfeeding support, breast pumps and counseling for pregnant and postpartum women; and screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence.
This guarantee of access to preventive services is a victory for women’s health. It removes a barrier to care that has routinely prevented women from seeking necessary health services. And it is good news for publicly funded health centers like Health Quarters where more patients will be able to access the care they need to be healthy without worrying about cost.