Preventive care is covered under the health care reform law, but for women, the question being posed is who will provide this care: general practitioners or ob-gyns? While men usually have a single primary-care doctor, women frequently see both a primary-care doctor and an obstetrician-gynecologist. What does that mean to the cost of health care for women?
Needing more than one doctor could change however, since health care reform defines some of the services women need as preventive care or primary care. Yet, it is still not clear what type of doctor is to provide services such as Pap tests. Would it be a general practitioner, internist, or another specialist?
New health insurance plans cover preventive care services, including cervical cancer screenings, mammograms, and prescribed contraceptives. And, all of this is free from co-pays, co-insurance or having to meet a plan’s deductible.
Medicaid expansion, at least in some states, is expected to expand coverage for such preventive health care. So, another question centers on how to give more people access to the same number of doctors. The Affordable Care Act also includes loan repayment programs to encourage medical students to go into primary care, instead of specialties. But, what about the shortage of practicing ob-gyns? And, should women see ob-gyns instead of other doctors?
Brietta Clark is a professor of law teaching at Loyola Law School, but she has some insight into the answer to that question. She says even apparently healthy women should see ob-gyns regularly because they can find problems primary care doctors and other mid-level providers can miss.
Clark suffered from fibroids that her primary care doctor did not detect even after multiple exams. When she saw an ob-gyn, though, that doctor immediately caught the problem.
It makes sense that ob-gyns are more likely to recognize the types of problems they encounter more often than other doctors. That goes for fibroids and it may be true for certain types of cancer.
Even though coverage for recommended preventive is the law, it may not apply to your plan if you’ve had it since before the Affordable Care Act became law.
However, the “grandfathered” plan may be less expensive, because it does not include all of the mandated coverage under Obamacare. Also, with a grandfathered plan you will not be forced to purchased a Bronze plan starting in 2014 – so it may be best to keep what you’ve got.
Insurance companies raise premiums January 1. Requesting an effective date for your policy to begin before the end of the year will get you 2012 rates that you can probably keep for another year. But if you’re not sure if it is a right move for you, make sure you talk to a professional who can help you make the right decision.