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Valerie Jarrett Headshot

Affordable Care Becomes a Reality for Women and Families

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As chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, I am incredibly proud to highlight an important part of the health care law that gives women more control over their health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 47 million women will have access to the preventive services they need. We all know that women and men face unique health risks and benefit from different preventive services. For too long, too many women have gone without these services due to out-of-pocket costs or lack of coverage.

Under the Affordable Care Act, for the first time ever, women will now have access to life-saving preventive care, such as mammograms and contraception, without paying any more out of their own pockets.

Today, we move yet another step closer to giving women control over their health care. In addition to the benefits for women already included in the Affordable Care Act, beginning the first plan year after August 1, 2012, most private health insurance plans will cover additional women's preventive services without requiring women to pay an extra penny out of their pockets. These services include:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Screening for gestational diabetes, which help protect the mother and her child from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling
  • Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence
  • Contraception and contraceptive counseling
  • HPV DNA testing
  • STI counseling
  • HIV screening and counseling
These services are based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, which relied on advice from independent physicians, nurses, scientists, and other experts, as well as evidence-based research, to develop its recommendations. And insurance companies know these services help prevent disease and illness, which can save them money in the long run.

By eliminating barriers like copays, co-insurance, and deductibles, secure, affordable coverage is quickly becoming a reality for millions of American women and families.

President Obama recalled his mother telling him, "You can tell how far a society is going to go by how it treats its women and girls. And if they're doing well, then the society is going to do well; and if they're not, then they won't be." With that principle in mind, these new guidelines for women's preventive health are a crucial step forward for the health of women, and for our society as a whole.

For more on the new guidelines, visit HealthCare.gov. Call your insurer for questions about how these new provisions will affect your plan.

Valerie Jarrett is the Chair of the Council on Women and Girls and Senior Advisor to the President.

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