SECOND OPINIONS

Covering Women’s Preventive Care – Part I

By PS | February 08, 2012
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As we have reported previously, in August 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted several new preventive care guidelines for women.

The new recommendations will be required to be covered under the PPACA preventive care rules for plan years that start on or after 8/1/12 (1/1/13 for calendar year plans). 

We have been receiving a number of questions on these new requirements. As we have reported previously, in August 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted several new preventive care guidelines for women.  The new recommendations will be required to be covered under the PPACA preventive care rules for plan years that start on or after 8/1/12 (1/1/13 for calendar year plans).  We have been receiving a number of questions on these new requirements. 

Where can we find a list of services that must be covered? 

The new guidelines are based on recommendations from the Institutes of Medicine and are found at www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines.  They require coverage in a number of categories, including: 

Well-woman visits; 

Screening for gestational diabetes; 

HPV testing; 

Counseling for STD infections; 

Counseling and screening for HIV; 

Contraceptive methods and counseling (with an exemption for certain religious employers); 

Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and 

Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence.  

Must a plan cover these services at 100%? 

Under PPACA’s preventive care rules, group health plans and individual and group health insurance policies must cover recommended preventive care services adopted by the Secretary (including the new guidelines) at 100% with  no cost-sharing.  The plan can require that enrollees go in-network in order for services to be covered at 100%.  The plan also can establish “reasonable medical management techniques” to determine the frequency, method, or setting for an item or service to be covered at 100%, unless otherwise specified in the recommendations.   

What contraceptives must a plan cover? 

The new guidelines require a plan to cover "all FDA-approved contraceptive methods."  FDA-approved contraceptives include prescription drugs, such as birth control pills, as well as over-the-counter items such as condoms, spermicides, and the “morning after” pill.