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Preventive Health Care & Services

There is Lots to Be Thankful for this Holiday Season, Including Preventive Services Without Cost-Sharing!

I know this is not the most health conscious time of year. The holiday season kicked off last week with turkey, stuffing, and pie (and latkes for many of you!) and we are still several weeks away from New Year’s resolutions. Weeks that will be filled with eggnog and cookies and the ever expanding selection of holiday beers I keep eyeing in my grocery store cooler. No one wants to think about getting their cholesterol checked.

But this is also the time of year where we are surrounded by family and friends and spend a lot of time thinking about all we have to be grateful for. I spent Thanksgiving joking that what I would be most thankful for was a Texas Longhorn win against Texas Tech. But a few days later my cousins and I learned our beloved high school math teacher had passed away at age 54. It was a sobering reminder to stop making football jokes and take stock of what I was really thankful for. Like the fact that my family was healthy enough to gather around the table together.

And I’m especially thankful that staying healthy is getting easier for millions of other American families. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans without affordable insurance coverage have new options. Read more »

New Benefits for Moms in the Affordable Care Act: How to Get Breast-feeding Support and Supplies

A recent New York Times blog, Breast-Feeding Services Lag the Law, describes the challenges women face trying to obtain this new benefit. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires “new” health plans to cover certain preventive services without cost-sharing, which means enrollees should not face out-of-pocket costs such as co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance. (If you want more information about which plans are considered “new” see our helpful fact sheet.)

These new plans are required to cover breast-feeding support, supplies and counseling. The counseling component is critical, because some mothers find initiating and maintaining breast-feeding challenging. The law recognizes this difficulty and requires plans to cover “comprehensive prenatal and postnatal lactation support [and] counseling.” This means that breastfeeding mothers now have health insurance coverage for lactation counseling without cost-sharing for as long as they are breastfeeding.

But, as the article describes, some insurance companies may be slow to fully cover this benefit by failing to provide a list of in-network providers, or referring women to other providers like pediatricians who may not be trained in lactation counseling. Read more »

House Singles Out Women’s Health As a Bargaining Chip in the Debate Over the Government Shutdown

While the rest of us were watching the season premiere of Saturday Night Live this weekend, the House passed a bill that holds women’s health hostage as a bargaining chip in the debate over shutting down the government.

It is such a typical move by the far-right politicians in the House that it almost plays out like a skit on SNL. They have become caricatures of themselves.

Specifically, late Saturday night, the House passed a continuing resolution that would exempt bosses from complying with the ACA’s Women’s Health Amendment if they oppose it for “religious or moral” reasons. This means that bosses could impose their religious beliefs on their employees, or even block their employees’ access to needed women’s health care for vague and undefined “moral” reasons. Female employees and dependents – just like men – are capable of making their own health decisions and must be allowed to do so without interference from their bosses. Read more »

“Most New Moms Could Use Help… And Thanks to Obamacare, Help is Available”

A recent NPR blog To Succeed at Breast-feeding, Most Moms Could Use Some Help details problems many new mothers have when initiating breast-feeding. But blog does not mention some exciting news—a new health care benefit that is already helping mothers start and continue breast-feeding. Breast-feeding is good for moms and good for babies, and new moms can get the help they need getting started, thanks to the health care law, also known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

The law requires all “new” health plans to cover breast-feeding support and supplies without cost sharing, which means not paying for a co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible. Read more »

What Mother’s Day Has To Do With Good Health

I love my baby.  He is so sweet and his laughter makes any bad mood float away.  But not only is my baby oh so sweet, he also made me aware of a breast lump. I noticed it once I started nursing him, because, really, I never really paid much attention to the issue of breast lumps and never did any self exams. 

I know, I know, health groups like American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists advocate women to have “breast self awareness,” and to report any changes to your breasts to your health care providers. But, since I don’t have any risk factors, I just never thought I would be in trouble. Well, after finding that not-so-small lump, I felt guilty. I realized even though I’m a huge advocate of preventive health, I wasn’t doing the one simple step of taking care of myself by getting preventive health screenings. And I realize, this is what preventive health is about, it’s about taking those steps to get ahead of health concerns before the health concerns get ahead of you. Read more »

The ACA Contraceptive Coverage Lawsuits: The Employee’s Right to Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Last week at a lunch with African advocates for women’s rights, we discussed pregnancy rates in Africa and the United States. Across the continents one thing remained constant—women have better outcomes when they are able to control their fertility. They enjoy greater freedom to pursue academic studies or careers, and to plan their lives as they see fit.

The ACA’s contraceptive coverage rule affords 47 million women this freedom by ensuring that they will be able to access birth control and related information through private insurance without having to worry about the cost. While many celebrate the anticipated improvements to women and children’s health, others are infuriated by the rule.

Opponents to birth control have made speeches decrying the rule, hosted conferences and brought lawsuit, after lawsuit, after lawsuit... Since the lawsuits have proved to be a publicity-gaining tool, we can anticipate many more. Read more »

Yes to Birth Control. No to Co-Pays.

Yes to Birth Control. No to Co-Pays.

Yes to Birth Control. No to Co-Pays.
Tell your Members of Congress you support women's access to preventive health services without co-pays or deductibles.
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Women's lives are about to get a little easier (and less expensive). Thanks to the health care law, today a provision goes into effect requiring birth control and other preventive services that women need be covered without a co-payment or a deductible! Over time, as an increasing number of new plans come under the law's reach, more women could have access to these services with no extra cost.

Tell your Members of Congress today how much this means to you and that you support women's access to preventive health services without co-pays or deductibles.

The preventive health services included in new plans are: well-woman visits, breastfeeding assistance and supplies, domestic violence counseling, screening for gestational diabetes, testing for high-risk strains of HPV, screening for sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Read more »

Protecting Our Hearts, With No Cost Sharing

I couldn’t remember the last time I had my cholesterol screened.

That probably isn’t a good thing given that there is a history of heart disease in my family. But I kept coming up with excuses not to get tested – I already have a lot of doctor appointments - I don’t have a primary care provider - I eat healthy - I’m too young to worry about cholesterol.

Then the health care law was passed and, after a few months, all new health plans had to provide certain preventive services with no cost sharing.

Eliminating the small copay for my preventive visit may not have been much, but it meant one less hurdle. I also started thinking about why these services are required to be provided with no cost sharing. Preventive services are important. Read more »

Silencing Women Didn’t End with Sandra Fluke

The House of Representatives is currently considering a bill, H.R. 5, which would reform medical malpractice laws. Several Congresswomen drafted an amendment to this bill which would have limited the bill’s malpractice protections if the malpractice claim is based on a violation of the health care reform law related to the women’s preventive health services. The Congresswomen went through the usual steps that an amendment must go through before it can be proposed. They worked with the Office of Legislative Counsel in drafting it. It was reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office who said its provisions would have no cost. The House Parliamentarian declared that it was germane, meaning that it was related to the underlying bill so that it could be proposed. The next step before the amendment could be debated on the floor was to have the Rules Committee allow the amendment. And then the Rules Committee attempted to silence these women, just as Rep. Issa tried to silence Sandra Fluke. Read more »

#HERvotes Blog Carnival – Fight Against an Expanded Religious Exemption to Birth Control Coverage!

HERvotesAs you may have heard, the Catholic Bishops are urging the Obama administration to expand the religious refusal clause concerning contraceptives. This could allow religiously affiliated institutions that are not churches – such as hospitals, universities, Catholic Charities, and others – to refuse to cover birth control without co-pays for their students and employees. That’s even though birth control constitutes “preventive care” under the Affordable Care Act, which is mandatorily covered at no cost by insurance plans. And as we’ve been telling you, denying contraceptive coverage is harmful to women.

In response, today the HERvotes coalition is banding together for another blog carnival to fight the Catholic bishops’ push to expand the religious exemption for employer birth control coverage. After the jump, we have links to some of the posts in today’s blog carnival to get you started reading. While you’re at it, please make sure to take a moment to tell President Obama that all women need affordable birth control. For more information about contraceptive coverage and for more resources and blogs from the NWLC, please visit our contraceptive coverage overview page.

Read more »