In an historic move, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced yesterday that it is adopting the women’s health guidelines recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) two weeks ago.
That means that this time next year, new health insurance policies will have to make services such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, screening for gestational diabetes, domestic violence screening, and birth control available to women with no co-payment, co-insurance, or a deductible for the services required.
The new rules go into effect on August 1, 2012.
The hottest item on the list of new prevention services is the requirement that insurers cover the full cost of birth control (see this guide provided by the FDA for women to use in discussion with their doctors).
This requirement didn’t sit right with many religious and conservative groups. In response, HHS included an amendment which gives religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees the option of not providing coverage for contraception services.
HHS has asked the public to share its thoughts on the birth control exemption, which it says is in line with accommodations already made for churches in most of the 28 states that already require insurance companies to cover contraception.
Your turn to sound off: How do you feel about the government requiring insurers to cover preventive services for women at no cost?
Got a health insurance question? Post it below. I’ll respond in this blog each Thursday to as many of your questions as I can.
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