All the Free Care That Comes with Your Health Insurance
When you enroll in a health insurance plan, you unlock some major FREE benefits. The Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance plans to cover many preventive care services for free to the patient—that means you don’t pay anything, not even your copay or deductible. In order to make the most of your health insurance plan (and your money!), you need to know what this free care looks like, if anything additional is included with your specific plan, and how to take advantage of them. Read on to find out what kind of care you can receive at no additional cost.
Preventive Checkups and Screenings
All adults have access to free preventive care, including annual screenings and checkups. There are over 15 free services, valued at hundreds of dollars, that you can take advantage of to keep you healthy throughout the year. These free services include:
Diabetes (Type 2) screening for overweight and obese adults between the ages of 40 and 70.
Blood pressure screening, which normally costs $80 to $100 without insurance.
HIV screening for everyone between the ages of 15 and 65, as well as other at-risk populations.
Diet counseling for adults at an increased risk for chronic disease like heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. This aims to help adults prevent expensive illnesses (like heart disease) down the road by teaching healthy eating habits, food science, and the role sugar and fat have on overall health.
Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or groups at higher risk. This usually costs about $100 without insurance (hello, Savings!).
Alcohol misuse screening and counseling for anyone who abuses alcohol or is in danger of abusing alcohol.
Hepatitis B and C screening for adults with an increased risk.
Obesity screening and counseling
Colorectal cancer screening for adults over 50. This is one of the higher ticket items on this list, usually costing $2000 or more without insurance!
Syphilis screening for adults at increased risk.
Lung cancer screening for adults between the ages of 55 and 80 at high risk for lung cancer due to smoking.
Tuberculosis screening for a subset of at-risk adults.
Tobacco use screening for all adults, as well as interventions to help tobacco users stop.
Wondering how you might use these free services? We have a few examples of how you can put these to use!
If you are worried about your heart health, you can use the free cholesterol screenings, blood pressure screenings, and diet counseling.
If you want to improve your mental health, you can get a free depression screening.
If you are interested in learning how to give up tobacco, you can get free tobacco counseling after your tobacco use screening.
Additionally, be sure to talk to your primary care physician about which of these screenings are right (and most important) for you!
Free Care: Vaccinations Edition
Routine preventive vaccines that are recommended by the Center for Disease Control must be free with any Affordable Care Act plan. While the doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary, this typically includes vaccines like:
Influenza (the flu shot!)
Varicella (better known as chickenpox)
These vaccines typically cost around $100 each. Be sure to consult with your doctor about what previous vaccines you’ve had, as well as what is recommend based on your demographics.
Annual Wellness Visits for Women
Women have access to an annual wellness visit, as well as a large range of additional free services. Here’s a couple examples of what you might want to take advantage of:
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you might want a gestational diabetes screening, a Hepatitis B screening, anemia testing, or tobacco counseling (if you need to quit).
If you’re a new mother (congrats!) you might want to take advantage of the breastfeeding counseling and support benefit.
If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, you have access to birth control at no cost. By law, your health insurance covers one generic type of birth control in each of the 18 categories. This includes the pill, the patch, IUDs, NuvaRing, and even the Morning-After Pill.
Other free services available specifically for women include:
Cervical cancer screening
Breast cancer screening (mammograms)
Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
Free Care Available to Children
Children have access to a variety of free annual screenings and checkups! The exact services vary by age, but here are a few examples:
0-11 months old: Many of the services provided during your “well-baby” visits are covered at no cost! On average, you can expect 6 well-baby visits during the first year. At these visits, your doctor will make sure your baby is meeting developmental milestones in height and weight, as well as milestones in brain development.
1-4 years old: Your child will have “well-child” visits, on average about 7 over the course of 3 years. Your doctor will continue to monitor your child’s growth and development as well as give your child any immunizations.
5-10 years old: By this time your child only needs to see the doctor for one primary care visit per year. Your child will continue to be monitored for growth goals.
11-17 years old: Your child will continue having one wellness visit each year. These visits will begin to focus on physical and emotional changes. Your doctor will check in on your child’s physical development, as well as emotional well-being.
Other free services available specifically to children include:
Alcohol and drug use assessments
Hearing and vision screenings
Oral health risk screenings
Sexually transmitted infection screening and counseling for adolescents at higher risk
Going Beyond the ACA: More Free Care
Some insurance companies offer even more free or discounted benefits as part of their plans. You can find out if a plan you’re interested in on Stride offers these additional benefits by checking the “Free Care” section for that plan.
Most insurance companies have some type of additional benefits! We’d recommend giving the member services number on the back of your card a call to learn about your specific plan’s additional benefits!
Enjoy all your free care, and let us know if you have any questions.