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Your Obamacare Questions Answered

Written by admin on August 22, 2013

Thank you, Jezebel, for finally providing a bit of digestible information on how Obamacare will impact women. Indeed, it already IS impacting women, with 26.9 million of them already receiving preventative care free of cost under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Most of you already know the basics:

  • The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to offer preventative health care free of charge.
  • You must be insured by 2014 or you will pay a fee.
  • Birth control will be covered free of charge — a fact that has created quite a hullabaloo.

These snippets of knowledge, however, still beg a lot of questions. Here are the answers to a few of them:

When do I start getting free birth control and other preventative services?

You may already be eligible if you have health insurance, but not all plans are required to comply with the law quite yet. You can call your insurance company to inquire about coverage. If they do not yet provide the new benefits, you may have to wait another year or more.

skd284316sdcWhat if I don’t have health insurance?

On Oct. 1, 2013, the Health Insurance Marketplace will be open. Coverage begins in January 2014 and enrollment continues through March 31, 2014. When the Marketplace opens, fill out an application to find out what plans you qualify for. Do it even if you know you can’t afford it, because Medicaid is being expanded as part of the reform. You may find out that you’re eligible. That coverage can start right away.

What exactly falls under the umbrella of ‘preventative care?’

A lot. Here’s the list:

For all women:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Contraception
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Breast cancer mammography screenings (for women over 40)
  • HPV DNA test (every 3 years for women 30 and older)
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
  • HIV screening and counseling
  • STI counseling
  • Tobacco use screening and intervention (with expanded counseling for pregnant users)
  • Osteoporosis screening (for women over 60, depending on risk factors)

For women considered ‘high-risk’ in certain categories:

  • Breast cancer genetic test counseling
  • Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling
  • Chlamydia infection screening
  • Gonorrhea screening
  • Syphilis screening

For pregnant women:

  • Anemia screening
  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling
  • Folic acid supplements (for women who may become pregnant)
  • Gestational diabetes screening
  • Rh Incompatibility screening
  • Syphilis screening
  • Urinary tract and other infection screening

Are all forms of contraception covered?

The full range of FDA-approved prescriptive contraception must be covered, including both drugs and devices. This includes, but may not be limited to:

But there IS a catch. There always is. Not every brand of every form of birth control will be included. If you are on a name-brand birth control option, you should call your insurance carrier to check whether it is on the list of covered methods. Choosing the right birth control is important, and so it is understandable that you may be attached to your current method. If your insurance plan does not cover it, take that information to your doctor. They may be able to help you out in finding a good alternative that is covered.

What About Plan B?

I could find no indication that Plan B will be affected by the health care law, since it is considered an over-the-counter drug. There are, however, interesting changes afoot concerning the emergency contraceptive. For those of you who cannot afford the $50 option, you may be able to beat the system.

Does my pharmacy fill birth control prescriptions?

I wish I could yell a big resounding “YES!” to this question. Unfortunately, this is a sticky issue. According to a Guttmacher Institute study, 12 states have explicit or broad statutes that excuse pharmacists from filling contraception scripts. There are many pharmacies in these states where no one will bat an eye when you walk in to get your birth control refill. But, there is a potential for refusal in:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota

Do I have to go to a specific doctor?

All services are covered only if you go to an in-network provider. Your insurance company will have a list of doctors. If you have a preferred provider, consider checking before you enroll in your new insurance plan.

Hopefully this clarified a few of your questions. As the Affordable Care Act continues to take effect, millions more women will benefit.

Do you have other questions about the birth control mandate? Has it already started affecting you? Ask questions and share your stories! 

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