It’s August 1st — Is Your Birth Control Co-Pay History?

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August 1, 2012 — The date is significant for women and their families throughout the United States.

Today, an important provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes into effect.

As of today all new private health insurance plans must cover women’s preventive health services without a co-pay.

What preventive services does this include?

  • Contraceptive methods and counseling
  • Well woman visits
  • Counseling regarding STDs, including HIV
  • Screening for HIV
  • DNA co-testing for HPV
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence
  • Screening for gestational diabetes

So, does this mean that your birth control will be free starting today?

Not necessarily.

Today is the day that all new plans must begin covering these services with no co-pay. Most existing plans will only be required to provide the new coverage when a new plan year begins.  For many of us, that’s next January or — if you’re on a student health plan — it might be as early as this fall when the new school semester starts.

In addition, some plans are grandfathered and won’t have to eliminate the co-pay until as late as 2014.

How do you know if and when your plan will cover these women’s preventive health services?

Your best bet is to call the phone number on your insurance card and ask about your particular insurance plan.

If you need some help with that, check out the National Women’s Law Center website. They also have this list of questions to ask your insurance company and a handy flow chart for you to follow.

And remember — if you don’t have health insurance or your plan isn’t required to provide the new expanded coverage at this time, you can still get affordable women’s health care services at any of Maine’s family planning clinics.

~ Nancy

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