In 2012 the Institute of Medicine (IoM) – now known as the National Academy of Medicine – compiled a list of eight recommended preventative healthcare services that insurance providers should provide for women without requiring them to pay money out of pocket. These services included routine STD screenings, breastfeeding support and supplies, FDA-approved methods of contraception and treatments for domestic violence and gestational diabetes. Today, most healthcare plans are required to cover these services without charging copays.
When the IoM published its recommendations, it also advised that the list should be updated at least every five years to keep in step with the current scientific knowledge. Now, the group has drafted a second updated list which adds a number of other preventative healthcare services to its list of services that should be covered free of charge.
Foremost among these services are regular breast cancer screenings. Under the new guidelines, women age 40 an older would be eligible for free mammograms every one to two years. Follow-up tests and procedures such as biopsies would also be covered if a mammogram were to uncover evidence of cancer growth.
In fact, the new list recommends that a wide variety of follow-up procedures should be covered without copays as well. This way, if a preventative healthcare service were to uncover a potentially serious health issue, women wouldn’t be forced to pay for additional testing out of pocket. The list also recommends covering contraception methods for men such as condoms and vasectomies. This would allow women and their male partners to take more complete control of their contraceptive options, without having to worry about expensive insurance fees.
The group is expected to submit its final recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services by December 1, 2016. If the proposed changes are adopted by the end of the year, they would go into effect for most insurance plans in 2018.