On August 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted additional Guidelines for Women's Preventive Services requiring new health insurance plans to cover women's preventive services such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening, and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible starting in August 2012. The guidelines were recommended by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Coverage of Recommended Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act 

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 copayment, deductible or coinsurance. Note that these required preventive services do not apply to grandfathered plans.

New Guidelines Expand Required Preventive Services for Women  

As a result of the new guidelines, additional women's preventive services that must be covered without cost sharing requirements include:

  • Well-woman visits;
  • Screening for gestational diabetes;
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
  • Sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
  • Domestic violence screening and counseling.

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 administration also released an amendment to the prevention regulation that allows religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services. This regulation is modeled on the most common accommodation for churches available in the majority of the 28 states that already require insurance companies to cover contraception. 

Additional Information 

For more on the requirements for coverage of recommended preventive services under the Affordable Care Act, please visit the HR360 Health Care Reform section. The links below contain additional information on the HHS guidelines for expanding women's preventive services.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

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