28 Free Health Care Services for Women
Did you know that the Affordable Care Act requires all health insurers to offer several services at no cost to you? It’s called preventive care, and it’s designed to help you get the regular screenings, checkups, and tests you need to manage your health. There are almost 30 preventive services designed uniquely for women, and as long as you have health insurance, you won’t owe a dime (not even a co-pay or coinsurance) for them.
Free Services Just for Women
In addition to all kinds of free care for adults and children, health insurance covers many services just for women. These services include:
Contraception: all plans provide a variety of free birth control options, including contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures.
Well-woman visits: this is an annual checkup designed for women under the age of 65. It’s a great time to review your health with your provider, get Pap smears, breast exams, and/or mammograms, renew your birth control prescription, and more.
Folic acid supplements: if you could get (or are planning on getting) pregnant, doctors recommend you take these supplements to prevent birth defects.
Cancer screenings: these annual screenings help prevent cervical and breast cancer. They include Pap smears (for women aged 21-65) and mammograms (for women over 40).
Breast cancer genetic testing and prevention: women with two or more first-degree relatives with breast cancer can test for the BRCA gene. If the test shows they are at risk of developing the disease, they can also receive preventive medications.
Other disease screenings: several services, like tests for diabetes, osteoporosis, and STDs (including gonorrhea, HIV, and chlamydia), are covered if you’re at risk for the disease.
Domestic violence screening: you have free access to domestic violence agencies that can connect you with counseling, housing, lawyers, and other services you may need.
Free Services Just for Pregnant Women
Expecting a baby? Take advantage of these fully-covered services to stay healthy during your pregnancy:
Anemia screenings: these routine tests keep an eye on iron deficiency, which is common during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding counseling: get support from trained providers while you learn how to nurse. These providers can also help you get breastfeeding supplies.
Screenings: several screenings are covered during your pregnancy, including ones for gestational diabetes, hepatitis B, preeclampsia, and UTIs.
Tobacco counseling: this service helps you quit smoking to protect your and baby’s health.
Putting Your Free Services to Work
Wondering how you can actually use these free services? A few examples for how you might take advantage of them include:
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.