Women could start seeing some big advancements in preventive care services as part of the Affordable Care Act if the recommendations from Tuesday’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps, are accepted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The IOM report makes eight recommendations about what preventive services for women should be included under health insurance plans without requiring a co-payment. The report is a step in the right direction to ensure that women get the kind of care they need, without facing prohibitive costs.

The eight recommendations for preventive services for women are:

  • — Full range of contraceptive services and contraceptive counseling
  • — Annual well-woman exam
  • — Screening of pregnant women for gestational diabetes
  • — Annual counseling on sexually-transmitted infections for all sexually-active women
  • — Counseling and screening for HIV infection on an annual basis for sexually-active women
  • — Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence.
  • — Comprehensive lactation support and counseling and costs of renting breastfeeding equipment
  • — Addition of high-risk human papillomavirus DNA testing
To be clear, these services are not provided “free” as the media has reported. They are still paid for through insurance premiums, but they would be offered without requiring a co-payment.

HHS will decide whether to accept IOM’s recommendations possibly as soon as August 1st. The IOM report is a historic step for women’s health and shows the promise of the Affordable Care Act and what it can do for women and families. We hope HHS will swiftly approve these recommendations and not let this latest important advancement of the ACA get bogged down in politics.

You can learn more at Raising Women’s Voices: Women’s Health Preventive Health Coverage: Implementation Central.

— Reena Singh, Associate Director of State Consumer Health Advocacy