Additional Preventive Care For Women: Don't Worry It's "Free"

Health and Human Services announced an amendment to its final regulations for preventive care under the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (PPACA or "Obamacare" for short). As you may know, Obamacare requires all non-grandfathered plans to provide preventive care at 100%, meaning fully paid by the insurance carrier with no co-pays.

Without a doubt, this has already raised the cost of insurance plans to offset the additional costs necessary to meet the 100% preventive care requirement. The logic of the requirement is that insureds who take advantage of the preventive care will reduce their likelihood of developing costly illnesses and ailments in the long run. Typical examples of preventive care are annual physicals, screenings, well woman exams, and immunizations.

The new amendment mandates preventive care for women include these types of items and more:

  • Annual well-woman visits
  • Screening for gestational diabetes
  • HPV DNA testing for women 30 years and older
  • Sexually-transmitted infection counseling
  • HIV screening and counseling
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • Domestic violence screening and counseling

For more details, go here. Some of these items are not surprising and along the lines of what preventive care plans provide anyway. However, a few have grab the attention of observers. What disease is the provision of contraception and contraceptive counseling supposed to prevent? Getting pregnant? HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh scoffs at these critiques saying, "Throughout the whole range of preventive services, we have seen that co-pays and cost represent a real barrier to access."

Yes, that is exactly what the "price" of something is supposed to do. It creates a "barrier" to access thereby creating a market between buyers and sellers that is mutually advantageous. Without the barrier, you get shortages and over-utilization.

Note that "preventive" is also going to include breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling. So, we you will be able to rent a breast-pump at zero cost, no co-pay, FREE!

This is a real stretch of the definition of preventive care. Only fools will think this is free. Policyholders will pay for it in the form of higher premiums and taxpayers will pay for it ultimately as they have become the backstops for the health insurance carriers under Obamacare. It seems the clear winners are the birth-control manufacturers and the breast-pump makers who have a government willing to mandate their products be given away for free. I hope they locked in a good price!


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