Posted at: 07/31/2012 6:06 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann
ALBANY - Laura Gallery said as a college student on a budget, it's been hard to afford her monthly costs for birth control.
"I have to be really careful with what I'm paying currently. And if I didn't have this Act coming through I'd be paying $60 a month just for a pack of pills," she said.
But as of tomorrow, she won't have to pay a dime for most contraception. Under the new health care law, private health insurers have to offer eight preventive services to women for free.
"Women no longer have to make that choice between whether to have birth control, preventive medicines for themselves versus paying a grocery bill or just living and being able to access care," said Dr. Christine Pluviose, Vice President for Patient Services at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood.
Besides contraception, the law means no out-of-pocket expenses for Well-Women visits, Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling, and counseling for sexually-active women with sexually-transmitted infections.
Also free will be HPV DNA testing for women 30 and older, screening and counseling for HIV in sexually-active women, domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling, and gestational diabetes screening.
The cost savings add up, according to women's health advocate Tracey Brooks, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York.
"It's five weeks of groceries for a family of four annually, it is one semester of text books for a college student that is direct impact right now for families at a time when they need it most," Brooks said.
Besides being a college student, Galley also works at Planned Parenthood. She hopes the free services will get more women the critical health care they need.
"They'll be able to come in and not worry about being able to pay for their preventive services, well woman, breast exam. They may have put it off before but they don't have to anymore," she said.
Insurance companies must offer these eight preventive services beginning August 1st or at the next policy renewal date, for instance September first or January first.
Check with your insurer, to find out when you won't have to pay that co-pay or deductible any longer.