I cannot stress enough the power of early detection. I cannot stress enough the power of prevention. And that’s what well-woman visits are all about. Prevention and early detection are the cornerstones for these routine visits to the OB/GYN. These visits cover a wide range of preventive services that are recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Yet, the USPSTF does not actually recommend the visit itself.  Which is truly unfortunate. Why, you ask? Because women have to pay hefty co-pays for these visits and sometimes that can leave a woman choosing not to go to the visit because she cannot afford to. So, she forgoes all of these preventive services to pay for other necessities.

But… drum roll please…this could be about to change! The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that an annual well-woman visit be added to the list of preventive services for women that will be covered by all new insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.  Now, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is reviewing these recommendations and will decide which to add to the list of preventive services for women that will be covered by all new insurance plans. If these recommendations are accepted, this would put an end to co-pays for these vital visits.

This is really something to celebrate and get excited about.

With early detection and preventive services, women’s health can be greatly improved in this country.  Women will be able to be checked yearly and will have less reason to wait until there’s a problem to seek care. Which, let’s face it, is the only time some women ever visit a gynecologist. But if HHS accepts the IOM recommendations, women will be able to go to these yearly well-woman visits and not have to worry about being crushed by prohibitive co-pays.

This will only happen if these recommendations are adopted by HHS. Still, a huge step was taken with these recommendations being put forward in the name of women’s health. On top of yearly well-woman visits, the recommendations included contraception, counseling for sexually transmitted infections, support and counseling for breast feeding, screening for cervical cancer, and screening for intimate partner violence. If you want to see these changes put into action, I urge you to contact HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and urge her to accept these recommendations from the IOM.

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