This week's announcement that the Obama administration's health care reforms will make birth control available without a co-pay met with considerable enthusiasm from women's health advocates. The news followed the Department of Health and Human Services' decision to adopt a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine that encouraged preventative health services for women. Contraceptives, however, are only one part of the new changes to the health care landscape: Women are expected to benefit from a number of additional health care services that most insurers will now be required to offer. Here's what you need to know:
Beyond birth control pills, the list of preventative health services that will be completely covered — with no co-pay or deductible — is impressive. Coverage will now include an annual "well-woman" preventive care visit, diabetes screening during pregnancy, screening for the HPV virus that can cause cervical cancer, support for breast-feeding mothers (including breast pump rental reimbursement), as well as screening and counseling for sexually transmitted infections, HIV infections, and domestic violence.
Is everyone in favor of these changes?
No. The new regulations have met with a whole lot of resistance from some conservative and religious groups, even though faith-based organizations that offer health care to their employees can opt out of providing contraceptive services. "The unfunded mandate of forcing private employers to pay for these good things is socialism, pure and simple," says attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who heads the San Francisco Republican Party, as quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle.
When will these changes take effect?
For most insurance companies operating on a calendar-year basis, the new requirements take effect January 1, 2013. For insurance policies beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2012, the new requirements take effect immediately. Some health plans already in place will be temporarily exempt from providing preventative services because of a "grandfather clause," but as these plans are modified over time, they too will have to follow the new requirements.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Fall film guide: All the movies you should see in October
- Why you probably don't have Ebola — even if you shook hands with America's 'patient zero'
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- The dumb war in Syria will haunt Democrats' 2014 prospects
- Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert are accidentally having a serious debate on ISIS
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
Subscribe to the Week