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November 13, 2011

Run for Coverage!

Find out how new health-care laws will affect you.

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It's health plan enrollment season again. And those who actually take the time to read the literature may save a heap of cash next year. Why? The benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act, a law requiring private plans to cover an array of preventive services and treatments at zero out-of-pocket cost. Women, especially, stand to gain, so read on.

What's Covered Now: Mammograms and cervical cancer screenings; depression screening and counseling; obesity screening and counseling; folic acid supplementation; smoking interventions and counseling; breast-feeding support; chlamydia and gonorrhea screening.

Coming Soon: Additional coverage for women, effective August 2012 — most significantly, 100 percent covered FDA-approved prescription contraceptives. Also added were a doctor's visit to determine which preventive services are recommended; rental of breast-feeding supplies; domestic violence screening; HPV DNA testing; sexually transmitted infection counseling; and HIV screening and counseling.

The Fine Print: Many plans (specifically, those created before March 23, 2010) are grandfathered from providing such coverage. And coverage may not apply if you go out of network. Plus, some plans may choose not to cover brand-name contraceptives if a generic is available (unless the brand-name is doctor-recommended).

Get What You're Entitled To: Not sure if your insurance is up to par? Ask your benefits department, or check out healthcare.gov/prevention.

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