The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations released today for well-woman care are historic and the result of years of advocacy and persistent work of the women’s health movement, the improved status of women, and the leadership of the Obama Administration. These guidelines, if adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will increase vitally needed and often lifesaving preventive services for women.
Today’s IOM recommendations, if adopted, would require private insurers to cover an annual well-woman visit and a variety of specific health screenings and counseling, such as for domestic and interpersonal violence, gestational diabetes, cervical cancer (an HPV DNA screening), HIV and STIs, as well as all FDA-approved contraceptives, sterilization procedures, breastfeeding support, lactation services, and supplies. The IOM was tasked with advising HHS on the types of preventive care services that insurers will be required to cover, without a co-pay, under their health care plans.
Birth control and other women’s health services will not be free but will be fully covered for all women who have health insurance, without any additional charges or co-pays. This rule will apply to new insurance policies that are issued after the expiration of a one year waiting period, which starts after HHS adoption of the recommendations, and to all plans by 2018.
Feminist Majority Foundation urges HHS to promptly adopt and begin implementation of these recommendations, which will dramatically increase women’s access to preventive health care, including family planning services, improving the health and lives of women in every state. For women, the IOM recommendations are a game-changer.