On August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced historic new guidelines that will ensure that women receive preventive health services at no additional cost.  The guidelines, which were developed by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM), require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services, including well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding support, contraception, and domestic violence screening, without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, women’s preventive health care is covered with no cost sharing for new health plans.  Last summer, HHS released new insurance market rules under the Affordable Care Act, requiring all new private health plans to cover several evidence-based preventive services like mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, and childhood immunizations without charging a co-payment, deductible or co-insurance.  The August 1 announcement of the new guidelines for comprehensive coverage for women’s preventive care builds upon that progress.  “The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.”  New health plans will need to include these services without cost sharing for insurance policies with plan years beginning on or after August 1, 2012.

The HHS guidelines are available by clicking here.