Free Birth Control, Pap Tests Now the Law for Insurers
Women's health care package rolling out on Wednesday. (Photo Illustration/Thinkstock / August 1, 2012)
All new health insurance plans in the United States must now provide eight preventive health benefits for women at no cost.
Existing customers will receive the benefits at the start of their plan's next renewal.
The new benefits include: routine check-ups breast and pelvic exams, Pap smears, screening for sexually-transmitted diseases, access to free contraceptives, prenatal care, breastfeeding supplies and counseling for domestic violence.
In the past, healthcare patients had to pay for these things out of pocket with either deductibles or co-pays.
The government estimates that 47 million women in America will benefit from the changes.
"Too often, we put our own health last, and that's especially true when it comes to preventive care -- regular checkups and screenings that are so important to staying healthy, but can be too easy to put off," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Republicans argue that the services aren't really free and will have to be paid for with higher taxes.
They have promised to continue their efforts to repeal the president's health care law.