Consumers Soon to Get Preventive Health Care at No Cost

This week new federal rules were released that will require insurance plans to provide preventive health services without any co-pay, co-insurance or deductible. The move to ensure that prevention is without cost to the consumer comes from the federal health reform legislation passed earlier this year.

The requirement will apply to new plans in which individuals and families enroll on or after September 23, 2010. Essentially, after open enrollment periods this fall and winter, Americans will be able to take advantage of this piece of health reform.

Kathleen Sebelius , the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that 100,000 deaths could be prevented each year if just five services were used as currently recommended, according to the NYTimes. Those preventive services are colorectal and breast cancer screening, flu immunization, smoking cessation counseling, and daily aspirin therapy to prevent heart disease.

The move is intended to remove cost as a disincentive to taking advantage of preventive services as well as to generate health care savings that are associated with preventive care.

While the preventive test or screening is free of charge, treatment of a health condition may still carry cost-sharing. For instance, screening for high cholesterol would be free under the new rules but co-pays could be charged for cholesterol lowering prescriptions.

HealthCare.gov, the federal government’s new website, has a listing of the services that will be free to consumers when the new rule goes into effect.

CSG publications on preventive health policy:

Comprehensive Smoking Prevention Programs (2 page Talking Points); (Policy Brief)

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease (Policy Brief)

Preventing Colorectal Cancer (2 page Talking Points); (Policy Brief)

Making HIV Testing Routine (2 page Talking Points) ; (Policy Brief)