The Affordable Care Act: Making Preventive Health Care Affordable for You!

Editor's Note: This is the first of a weekly “Did You Know” blog series that will highlight important, but not well known features of the health reform law about prevention, wellness, and personal responsibility for our health. 

Did you know that you can receive preventive health services at your doctor’s office free of co-pay?

That’s right! The Affordable Care Act is serious about changing the culture of our health care system from treating disease after we get sick to preventing disease so that we don’t fall ill in the first place. From free preventive medical services and personalized wellness plans to community transformation grants and nationwide health education campaigns, the Affordable Care Act can help Americans raise a healthy generation of kids, build a healthier workforce, and reduce the overall cost of health care. 

One of the many ways the Affordable Care Act is working already to help individuals stay ahead of chronic illnesses is by requiring health insurers, including Medicare, to offer certain preventive health services free of co-pays. This new rule has been in effect since September 23, 2010, so you may already be reaping the benefits! For private insurance, the rule applies only to new plans, or those that have lost their “grandfathered” status, meaning, if you enrolled in a new plan at work or your employer significantly changed its health plan since March 23, 2010, you can receive the following preventive services without paying a deductible or co-payment:

  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cholesterol screening for certain aged and high-risk adults
  • Colorectal cancer screening for adults over 50
  • Type 2 diabetes screening for adults with high blood pressure
  • HIV screenings for people at high risk
  • Depression screening
  • Alcohol abuse screening and counseling
  • Aspirin use for men and women of certain ages
  • Immunization for adults and children (see full lists here)
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening for men who have smoked
  • Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Sexually transmitted infection prevention counseling and screening for people at high risk
  • Tobacco use screening and cessation interventions for tobacco users
  • Syphilis screening for adults with high risk

There are additional preventive health services available specifically for women and for children that are also free of co-pays. Comprehensive lists of available services can be found online. Information about each of these preventive services, along with tips and resources to help you and your loved ones stay healthy, is also available.

Unsure whether or not your plan is grandfathered or if you will be able to get these services at no cost to you? Ask your insurer! They will know. You can also learn more about grandfathered plans online.

This post was coauthored by Rachel Gielau.


Interested in an in-person presentation on how health reform is rolling out in Illinois and what it means for individuals? Are you a direct service provider or advocate for vulnerable populations and interested in how the Affordable Care Act will impact the population you serve? Rachel Gielau, health policy expert at the Shriver Center, is giving free in-person presentations to Illinois audiences on how health reform is affecting individual and families in Illinois. Contact Rachel at 312-368-1154 to set up a presentation for your organization.


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