My partner’s parents are in town visiting us for a few weeks. They told us that before they left Houston they got whooping cough immunizations, and were surprised to get them for free. Yes free! Since 2010 it’s illegal for insurers to charge a co-payment for a long list of healthcare services designed to prevent disease. Despite all the publicity President Obama’s health care reform has received, it’s amazing how many of the law’s benefits have gone unnoticed.
A large portion of health-care costs are attributable to preventable disease, and the health-care law tilts heavily toward preventive services. Just last week the part of the law, that requires insurance companies to provide contraceptives at no cost to subscribers went into effect, offering free preventive services to 47 million women.
If you’ve visited the doctor in the last couple years, your wallet should have already felt the effect of the Affordable Care Act. Here are some of the services that must be offered for free:
Adults: Screening for HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, colorectal cancer, and depression; immunizations; obesity counseling and help quitting smoking.
Women: Screenings for gestational diabetes and cervical cancer; well-woman visits.
Children: Behavioral assessments, body mass index measurements, vision and lead screening.
Seniors: Under Medicare, bone mass measurement, prostate cancer screening, cholesterol and cardiovascular screening, and flu shots.
Removing cost barriers is a great step to making healthcare more accessible. Many people are already taking advantage of the new free services. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 54 million have received free services under the law that previously would have cost them at least a co-payment.