HARRISONBURG, Va -- Wednesday some health insurance companies must start providing certain benefits to women for free. These new health guidelines will help all women get the basic services they need with the goal of cutting down on preventative diseases.
Starting in January, most private health insurance plans will cover preventative services, like pap smears and free contraception. They will also cover screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling, counseling for domestic violence and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.
Eventually, all of these services will be covered without a co-pay.
Most insured women will not notice a big difference. They will go through the same procedures at the doctor.
The people providing and covering the care will notice the biggest changes.
Dr. Ami Keatts at Harrisonburg Ob-Gyn said they do not mind the upcoming changes.
"We don't view increased volume into the office as a bad thing,” said Dr. Keatts. “We view that as a good thing. Increased access to care is something that we all believe in."
Dr Keatts said they are willing to hire more staff if the volume gets beyond what they can provide.
Jonathan Coddington at LD&B Insurance in Harrisonburg said this amendment is a big deal.
"What most of this is about is just trying to empower women to say, if you want to have, well, women's exams or you want to take contraceptives, now they're going to pay for it, and you're not going to have any costs," said Coddington.
Even though no cost for patients means more costs for insurance companies, Coddington said these extra costs are worth it.
"What's the cost of not getting the preventative care done? What's the cost of having an unplanned pregnancy? $10,000? What if the contraceptive costs $10?”
Although he is not sure yet how this will affect premiums, he said preventative care could save us more money in the long run. As for Dr. Keatts, she just wants what is best for women.
"I think it's a wonderful thing, and I would love it if patients could come and do some of the preventative care without the burden of a co-pay," said Dr. Keatts.
The majority of private insurance companies are required to cover these services to all insured women.
Health officials hope this will have a profound impact on all aspects of women's health.
This law will not apply to everyone right away. The majority of women will be able to take advantage of the changes on a rolling scale.
The changes will start at the beginning of the insurance plan's year. If you just started your plan July 1, you may not see these benefits until July 2013.
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