White House Unveils New Rules on No-Cost Preventive Services
On Wednesday, the Obama administration unveiled new rules requiring health insurers to provide several kinds of preventive services, such as screenings and laboratory tests, without cost-sharing by patients, the New York Times reports.
The requirements -- created under the federal health reform law -- will eliminate copayments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket charges for tests and screenings recommended by various government advisory bodies.
New health plans that begin coverage after Sept. 23 and existing health plans that make changes after that date will be required to follow the rules, which the administration said could increase premiums by an average of 1.5% (Pear, New York Times, 7/14).
First lady Michelle Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new rules (Weaver, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post, 7/15). According to Sebelius, the rules will extend benefits to 31 million U.S. residents in new employer-sponsored health care plans and 10 million residents in new individual plans.
Details of Covered Services
Under the rules, insurers will be required to cover cancer screenings, routine vaccinations, prenatal care, and wellness visits for infants and children without cost-sharing by patients.
They also will be required to cover smoking-cessation and obesity counseling, as well as testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (New York Times, 7/14).
USPSTF Becomes Focus of Lobbyists
Health industry experts say the new rules could put more political power behind the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Several USPSTF recommendations will be used to determine which preventive services are covered by insurers without cost-sharing.Observers say lobbyists and disease advocates might target the task force in their efforts to see their priorities covered at no-cost (Kaiser Health News/Washington Post, 7/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.