More than a million Pennsylvania women can count on their health insurance policies to cover a host of services under new provisions of the Affordable Care Act that kicked in this week. "Well Woman" visits are now covered without deductibles or co-pays for new policies.Karen Davenport, director of Health Policy at the National Women's Law Center, says most mammograms and Pap tests were already covered under the health care law, and new benefits have been added to the list.
"Services related to pregnancy, like screening for gestational diabetes; screening for HIV and counseling around other kinds of STIs; DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer."
For those with existing health insurance policies, these additions take effect as the policies renew.
Davenport says historically, private insurance companies have been reluctant to cover many services related to breastfeeding, but now women can count on that coverage as well.
"Help with breastfeeding, particularly supports and supplies related to helping women get breastfeeding started with their new babies, and to continue that as they go back to work."
The change also means women with health insurance will no longer have co-pays for contraception, and advocates say it will give more women access to family planning services. That is one reason the Affordable Care Act continues to be controversial, with House Republicans attempting to eliminate its funding.
Information about the new guidelines is online at hrsa.gov.