There are so many reasons to be thankful for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – and one of the most important reasons is the law’s women’s preventive services provision, which requires all new health insurance plans to cover a set of evidence-based women’s preventive services, such as birth control and well-woman visits, without out-of-pocket costs.  Access to preventive care without out-of-pocket costs is particularly important for women, who utilize preventive care at higher rates than men, suffer from chronic illness and disabilities at higher rates than men, and have unique health needs, such as those arising from pregnancy and childbirth.

Science and medicine often change rapidly, with new developments and research coming out every year.  To keep the ACA’s women’s preventive services provision up-to-date with the latest science, a panel of experts makes recommendations to the list of preventive services that must be covered without cost sharing under the ACA.  As part of the process, the panel considers comments from the public when it contemplates changing an existing recommendation or recommending a new evidenced-based preventive service.

This month you can comment on the panel’s newest draft recommendation for no-cost coverage: postpartum (after-pregnancy) screening for diabetes.  

Here’s some information about gestational diabetes that you might find helpful to know:

Gestational diabetes is the most common metabolic disorder in pregnancy: an estimated 9% of pregnancies result in gestational diabetes, which is associated with increased birth weight, increased risk of delivery trauma, and higher mortality rates.  Women of color are at particularly high risk of developing gestational diabetes: while 1.5-2% of white women develop gestational diabetes, Native women may have rates as high as 15%, and Latinx, Black and Asian populations have rates between 5-8%.

The women’s preventive services provision already requires no-cost coverage for gestational diabetes screening during pregnancy, but it currently does not include coverage for diabetes screening after pregnancy.  Unfortunately, approximately one-third of women with gestational diabetes will develop type-2 diabetes after pregnancy.  For higher-risk populations, that percentage jumps to 50%.  Type 2 diabetes increases risks for many serious health problems, such as stroke and heart disease.   Early detection is key to keeping people with Type 2 diabetes healthy.  Unfortunately, although we know many women will develop diabetes after pregnancy, post-pregnancy screening rates are low.  Adding diabetes screening after pregnancy to the women’s preventive services provision – meaning these screenings must be covered by health insurance with no cost-sharing – could allow more women to access these screenings, helping them catch post-pregnancy diabetes earlier, stay healthy, and prevent long-term health problems.

If you want to comment on inclusion of no-cost, post-pregnancy screening for diabetes in the ACA’s women’s preventive services provision or have a story to share about your personal experience with postpartum diabetes, you can submit a comment for the panel here. Comments are due June 22, 2017.

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