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More than a Million: Health Insurance Changes Kick in for MD Women

PHOTO: Female patient in a medical office, courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
PHOTO: Female patient in a medical office, courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
August 1, 2012

BALTIMORE – More than 1 million Maryland women can count on their health-insurance policies to cover a host of services under new provisions of the Affordable Care Act that kick in today.

"Well Woman" visits now are covered without deductibles or co-pays for new policies. Most mammograms and Pap tests already were covered under the health-care law, says Karen Davenport, director of health policy at the National Women's Law Center, and new benefits have been added to the list today.

"Services related to pregnancy, like screening for gestational diabetes; screening for HIV and counseling around other kinds of STIs; DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer."

For Marylanders with existing health-insurance policies, Davenport says, the additions take effect as they renew.

Historically, she says, private insurance companies have been reluctant to cover many services related to breastfeeding, but now women can count on that coverage as well.

"Help with breastfeeding, particularly supports and supplies related to helping women get breastfeeding started with their new babies, and to continue that as they go back to work."

Today's change means women with health insurance will no longer have co-pays for contraception, and advocates say it will give more women access to family-planning services. That is one reason the Affordable Care Act continues to be controversial, with House Republicans attempting to eliminate its funding.

The new guidelines are online at hrsa.gov.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD