ACOG group proposes expanded preventive women's services without co-pays

A group of mostly medical providers seeks to expand the range of preventive health services women can receive without paying anything out of pocket under the Affordable Care Act, according to a Kaiser Health News report. 

The Women's Preventive Services Initiative, launched by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has proposed draft recommendations that update recommended preventive services with no cost sharing for women.

The initial list was developed in 2012 by the Institute of Medicine, now called the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Under this list, most health plans must cover well-woman visits, screening and/or counseling for sexually transmitted infections and domestic violence and gestational diabetes, along with breastfeeding support and supplies and all methods of contraception that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the article.

The list is meant to be reviewed and updated at least every five years. The new draft recommendations from the WPSI also address breast cancer screening, coverage of follow-up testing or procedures as part of the preventive services and male methods of birth control, according to the report.

The group recommends discussions between women in their 40s at average risk of breast cancer and their healthcare providers in regard to potential benefits and harms of screening mammography. The WPSI recommends screening mammography every one or two years for women at average risk. The group said women at average risk of breast cancer who have not initiated screening in their 40s should begin screening mammography at age 50 and continue until at least age 75.

The ACOG group also proposes that if imaging tests, biopsies or other interventions are required to evaluate the mammogram findings, they should be considered an integral part of the screening, which means they would not require cost sharing by women, according to the report.

Additionally, the draft recommendations would cover over-the-counter methods of birth control without a prescription and allow women to receive a full-year supply of contraceptives all at once, the report states. The range of preventive health services covered without a co-pay would also cover men's contraception, including condoms and vasectomies.

The draft recommendations are subject to public comment until Sept. 30. Final recommendations are then submitted to be considered for adoption by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration.

 

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