No more co-pays for birth control, other preventative care

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It's being called "No Co-pay Day."

Starting Wednesday, August 1, insured women will be able to get preventive care without having to come up with money for a co-payment or deductible. It's the latest provision to go into effect under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

The first of an estimated 47 million women can begin walking into their doctor's offices Wednesday for annual visits, birth control, mammograms, breastfeeding support, and even domestic violence counseling without a deductible or co-pay.

Jennifer Lowe of Indianapolis normally hands over $25 for an annual visit.

" I do. I do make a co-pay. I think it's a great idea to have women not have to pay for services that we need and that we have to do every year," Lowe told Eyewitness News.

Mo Brittian works for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and said her employer is ahead of the mandate and already covering preventative health..

"I'm used to it because I've always had it, so for the women who don't have it, I think it's a great idea," added Brittian.

The no co-pay policy for in-network care is part of the Affordable Care Act. Only religious institutions and insurance companies with special exemptions can get around it.

The nation's Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, made the announcement in Washington Tuesday.

"It will also be illegal, finally, in America to charge women more than men just because they are women. In other words, being a woman will no longer be a preexisting condition," said Sebelius.

The Indiana Department of Insurance says Hoosiers need to understand one thing.

"No cost sharing does not equal free," said Logan Harrison, the Chief Deputy of Health at the Indiana Department of Insurance.

Harrison says insurance carriers will likely build in increases at renewal time between now and next year - increases both men and women will have to pay.

"That could range for the individual insurance market, probably about an increase of about $5-8 dollars per member, per month," he told Eyewitness News.

The government says some women whose insurance health plans did not cover preventive services may have gone without.

DeDe Banks agrees.

"Actually, my co-pay is zero, so I'm lucky. But some people, it hasn't always been like that," said Banks.

Now the government says as many as 980,000 Indiana women will benefit.

The eight new prevention-related services are:

• Well-woman visits.

• Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.

• Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.

• FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.

• Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.

• HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.

• Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.

• HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.

It's important to note that insurance companies have different renewal dates. That could impact when your insurance carrier actually begins offering no co-pays.

You can also call the Indiana Department of Insurance at 1-800-622-4461 or by email at consumerservices@idoi.in.gov.

For specific health plans, call your individual insurance carrier.

Are you eligible? Learn more.

See the number of women eligible