New Rules: New Health Plans to Provide Free Preventive Care

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , July 15, 2010

Preventive services with a grade of A or B, such as breast or colon cancer screenings, screening for vitamin deficiencies during pregnancy, screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and tobacco cessation counseling will be covered under these rules.

Among the areas addressed in the regulation:

  • Health plans will cover a set of standard set of vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—ranging from routine childhood immunizations to periodic tetanus shots for adults.

  • Health plans will cover preventive care for children recommended under the Bright Futures guidelines, developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    The guidelines provide pediatricians and other healthcare professionals with recommendations on the services they should provide to children from birth to age 21 to keep them healthy and improve their chances of becoming healthy adults.

    Among the services covered are regular pediatrician visits, vision and hearing screening, developmental assessments, immunizations, and screening and counseling to address obesity and help children maintain a healthy weight.
  • For women, health plans will cover preventive care provided to women under both the Task Force recommendations and new guidelines being developed by an independent group of experts, including doctors, nurses, and scientists, which are expected to be issued by August 1, 2011.

One area that will not be covered under the new provision is abortions, the HHS press office clarified Wednesday evening. As is the case with Federal Employees Health Benefit plans and the current healthcare reform law, abortions will not be covered as a pre existing condition for insurance plans except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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