It may be short-lived, but women received an important boost to their health care access this week.
On Wednesday, a provision of the Affordable Care Act took effect that allows insured women to obtain numerous services without additional out-of-pocket cost.
The services include well-woman checkups, including pap smears and mammograms. Also included is breast-feeding support and domestic-violence counseling. All people with insurance benefited from a provision requiring insurers to offer screening for gestational diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases without a co-pay.
The provisions are a smart way to improve health with little cost to insurance companies. Pap smears and mammograms allow for early detection of cancer, saving women’s lives and limiting the cost to insurers — and often taxpayers — of the much larger cost involved in treating cancer. Diabetes screening not only prevents the greater costs involved in late detection, it allows people to avoid complications that often disrupt employment.
While the major provisions of the health-care law do not take effect until 2014, it already is providing significant benefits. Children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. Women can visit obstetricians and gynecologists without a referral. Children cannot be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Insurers cannot cancel coverage because their customers get sick. The benefits are important, but they may not last for long. Republicans have promised to repeal the law if they prevail in the November elections.