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Did You Know You Can Get Free Preventive Care?

Have you taken a look at your health care benefits in the last year or two? It’s typically not something I enjoy doing, but after being sent a check for $40.00 from my doctor due to the new health insurance laws (a refund from a co-payment I had erroneously paid), I suddenly got a lot more interested.

Health is not to be taken lightly. Those of us who have suffered from disorders, diseases, unknown issues, and illnesses know that when you don’t have your health, you’ve got close to nothing. In order to maintain optimal health, it’s important that you take the time to go to preventative care sessions, check-ups, and get the types of exams needed at your particular age in life. Fortunately for you, many of these “necessities” have become a lot more affordable, or even free, over the last two years as part of the free preventive care law.

Why is My Health Insurance Now Giving Me Free Things?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act [1] (typically referred to as “Obamacare”) was signed into law on March 23, 2010. While this new healthcare law has garnered huge divides and opposition [2], it is good to get past the politics (for now) and begin to understand how to use this new information to your advantage.

One of the major components of this new law is a requirement to offer preventive healthcare to all people who are insured. So what are some of these new benefits for those who have health insurance?

Free Preventative Care

Did you know that you can now get some care completely free preventive care under Obamacare through your physician without a copayment, coinsurance, and regardless of whether or not you met your yearly deductible? Of course, this is only the case when you use a network provider. Here is a list of what you can get for free as preventative care:

  • Immunizations: I used to think I was getting a great perk for our free annual exams/vaccinations offered by my last employer. Now it’s for almost everyone! The immunizations that are free include: Hepatitis A/B, Herpes Zoster, Human Papillomavirus, Influenza (flu shot), Measles/Mumps/Rubella, Meningococcal, Pneumococcal, Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis, and Varicella.
  • Well Woman Visits: This is the reason why I received a $40 refund from the doctor! The new free preventive care for women benefit includes an annual well-woman preventive care visit for adult women so that they can obtain the recommended preventive services appropriate to their age and development.
  • Preventative Care for Children: See the list of preventative care health services available to children [3].

Free Screenings

Screening for certain conditions can allow a doctor to catch something earlier rather than later, which can literally make a difference between life and death depending on the disease or illness. Here are free screenings you can receive (with restrictions for gender and age):

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm one-time screening
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes Type 2
  • Obesity
  • Syphilis
  • Anemia (for pregnant women)
  • Mammograms for breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Chlamydia
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence
  • HIV
  • Gestational Diabetes (for pregnant women)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Osteoporosis (women ages 60+)
  • Rh incompatibility (for pregnant women, and as a follow-up)
  • Urinary Tract infections (for pregnant women)

Free Counseling

Several of the health insurance plans I have been on in the past have offered some type of free counseling for drugs or alcohol abuse. It is now mandated by law that the following types of counseling by offered for free:

  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Breast cancer genetic test
  • Breast cancer chemoprevention
  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling
  • Contraception patient education and counseling
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence
  • HIV
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Tobacco cessation

Free Medications and Supplements

These supplements or medications will not be given out freely to everyone; rather you have to get them through your doctor and a prescription.

  • Aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease for men and women of specific ages
  • Folic acid supplements (for pregnant women)

Plans Without Free Preventive Care

Grandfathered Plans. There had to be a catch, right? Before you go to the doctor, you will want to ensure that your plan has not been grandfathered. Grandfathered plans [4] are health plans created or bought before March 23, 2010, and these rights do not apply to those. Even if your plan is protected under the grandfather clause, it should be noted that many people feel most of these plans will lose their grandfathered status due to significant changes in their benefit design by 2014. Also, things that do apply to grandfathered plans include: the ban on rescission (except for causes of fraud), the ability for young adults to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans until the age of 26 [5], and the removal of lifetime coverage maximums.

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