Posted by Elizabeth Whittington, AACF Summer Intern on July 20th 2010
The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 7 out of the 10 deaths caused by chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease could be prevented with regular check-ups and screenings. We have been told time and time again by doctors and other health professionals that a focus on prevention is critical to maintaining a healthy population. Individuals and their families require preventative services to determine and address health risks before they become a problem.
Unfortunately, these preventive measures are often out of reach for those who cannot afford to pay additional co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance to receive such care. This means that many people are going without these necessary services which not only risks their lives, but also leads to overwhelming costs for future treatment, incurred by both the individuals themselves and taxpayers.
Thankfully, this brings us to another positive aspect of health care reform. Last Tuesday, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced new rules for on preventive care. As of September 23rd, insurance companies must cover preventive services without additional co-pays. Click here to learn more about these services.
The announcement emphasized the impact that the new prevention initiatives will have on children’s health:
- No co-payments or deductibles regarding check-ups for infants and children, including physicals, vision and hearing screenings, oral health assessments and development assessments
- Screenings and counseling for common child-health issues, including obesity, will be covered by health plans
- Certain immunizations will be provided at no additional charge, including booster and annual vaccines
For more specifics on the child-friendly aspects of the new rules, check out the Say Ahh! Blog summary at the Center for Children and Families, as well as a thumbs up post on the same blog from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
UPDATE: An astute facebook friend asked whether this also applies to existing health insurance plans. The answer for now is no. Existing, or "grandfathered" plans, are not subject to these new rules. However, there are requirements on these plans (e.g. can't raise cost significantly) that they must abide by or will lose their "grandfathered" status. The Say Ahh! Blog did a great summary on what these plans must do to keep their status.