After weeks of debate, it's official: The Department of Health and Human Services announced this morning that starting on August 1, 2012, insurance companies must cover women's preventive services, including birth control, as part of the Affordable Care Act. But what does that even mean? Between the red tape and the paperwork it takes every time you visit the doctor's office, things can get pretty confusing! We've got everything you need to know about how this new provision will affect you.
1. Preventive services will be free. This provision mandates that all health insurance companies cover preventive services, including screenings for conditions such as gestational diabetes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), and different forms of birth control. No more co-pays!
2. Religious organizations can opt out. The provision includes an amendment that allows religious organizations that offer health insurance to its employees to opt out of covering birth control.
3. Your premiums may go up. Although the goal of the new provision is to offset the costs associated with unplanned pregnancies or diseases caught earlier, the cost will be spread among those with insurance, resulting in higher premiums.