SEATTLE - More Washington women can count on their health-insurance policies to cover a host of services under new provisions of the Affordable Care Act that kick in today for 47 million women nationwide.
That's the prospect of lower medical costs for about 625,000 Washington women.
Most mammograms and Pap tests already were covered under the health-care law, says Karen Davenport, director of health policy at the National Women's Law Center, adding that a variety of new "Well Woman" prevention benefits also take effect today.
"Services related to pregnancy, like screening for gestational diabetes; screening for HIV and counseling around other kinds of STIs; DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer."
Davenport says women with new health-insurance policies will no longer have to worry about deductibles or co-payments, as they will be covered for these services in full. For existing policies, the additions take effect as they renew.
Historically, Davenport says, private insurance companies have been reluctant to cover many services related to breastfeeding, but now women can count on that coverage as well.
"Help with breastfeeding, particularly supports and supplies related to helping women get breastfeeding started with their new babies, and to continue that as they go back to work."
Today's change means women with health insurance will no longer have co-pays for contraception, and advocates say it will give more women access to family planning services. That is one reason the Affordable Care Act continues to be controversial, with House Republicans still attempting to eliminate its funding.
See the new guidelines online at hrsa.gov