Beginning today, up to 47 million women may be eligible to get free access to preventive health care services as that provision of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act goes into effect.
Under the new provision that goes into effect August 1, 2012, women will be eligible to receive the following eight services without paying a co-pay:
Already covered under the law are other free preventive services for women recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of doctors that advise the government on treatment guidelines. These include mammograms every 1-2 years for women over 40, cervical cancer screenings and prenatal care.
Many uninsured women taking contraception will still have out-of-pocket costs since the new rules only apply to people currently enrolled in health insurance plans. When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented more women are expected to get free access to preventive services.
Ask your insurance company when the new benefits will take effect for you.
Because these changes take effect at the beginning of a new insurance plan year, the requirement may go into effect later in the year for some people. The HHS estimates in a new report that 47 million women fall under such plans.
According to the White House Office of the Press Secretary, the policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.
Many religious groups still are fighting the provision. CBSNews.com reported that Catholic organizations across the country have filed 12 lawsuits in 43 different courts.
For too long, too many hardworking Americans paid the price for policies that handed free rein to insurance companies and put barriers between patients and their doctors. The Affordable Care Act gives hardworking families in Louisiana the security they deserve. The new health care law forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy because of an annual or lifetime limit, or, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
All Americans will have the security of knowing that they don’t have to worry about losing coverage if they’re laid off or change jobs. And insurance companies now have to cover your preventive care like mammograms and other cancer screenings. The new law also makes a significant investment in State and community-based efforts that promote public health, prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies.
Health reform is already making a difference for the people of Louisiana by:
Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep their children under age 26 without job-based coverage on their family coverage, and, thanks to this provision, 3.1 million young people have gained coverage nationwide. As of December 2011, 53,000 young adults in Louisiana gained insurance coverage as a result of the health care law. For more details on these numbers, visit here.
Thanks to the new health care law, 55,799 people with Medicare in Louisiana received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. Since the law was enacted, Louisiana residents with Medicare have saved a total of $53,879,178 on their prescription drugs. In the first five months of 2012, 12,143 people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount has resulted in an average savings of $640 per person, and a total savings of $7,777,457 in Louisiana. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.
In 2011, 487,292 people with Medicare in Louisiana received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And in the first six months of 2012, 237,223 people with Medicare received free preventive services.
Because of the law, 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 719,000 in Louisiana. But for women especially, it’s a new day. Beginning August 1, women in Louisiana can now get coverage— without cost-sharing—of even more preventive services they need. Approximately47 million women will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing for policies renewing on or after August 1, 2012, including 592,117 in Louisiana.
Under the new health care law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending generally at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don’t, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 75,493 Louisiana residents with private insurance coverage will benefit from $4,111,975 in rebates from insurance companies this summer. These rebates will average $94 for the 43,700 families in Louisiana covered by a policy.
In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Louisiana has received $1 million under the new law to help fight unreasonable premium increases.
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 1,411,000 residents, including 538,000 women and 385,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.
As of April 2012, 795 previously uninsured residents of Louisiana who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law. To learn more about the plan available in Louisiana, check here.
Since 2010, Louisiana has received $13.1 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Louisiana, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.
The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers in all 50 states, including the 122 existing community health centers in Louisiana. Health centers in Louisiana have received $41.8 million to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, enable health centers to increase the number of patients served, expand preventive and primary health care services, and/or support major construction and renovation projects.
The law gives states support for their work to build the health care workforce, crack down on fraud, and support public health. Examples of Affordable Care Act grants to Louisiana not outlined above include:
Healthcare.gov has more on the new preventive benefits for women.
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