Free Health Screenings a Hassle for Docs

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1min 17sec

Women’s health advocates are celebrating a new provision of the federal health care law that takes effect today: women with insurance can get many common preventive health services with no co-pay. But CPR Health Reporter Eric Whitney says getting the services for free may not be as simple as it sounds.

Here is a transcript of Eric’s story.

Reporter: The new rule says that health insurance companies can no longer require women to come up with co-pays for many routine exams, including annual check-ups, breast exams and pap smears.

Ashley Wheeland, with the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative says right now, co-pays prevent lots of women from getting those screenings.

Wheeland: Having more access to these services will result in healthier families, healthier women, healthier children and be great for our state.

But not every woman will be able to get free screenings right away. The co-pay waiver doesn’t kick in until a woman’s health plan re-news. For a lot of people that happens once a year, but others only re-new every other year. It’s not until 2014 that virtually all health plans will be required to waive the cost sharing.

Until then, it’s going to be up to clinics and doctor’s offices to check whether a patient is eligible to have their co-pay waived.

Anders Gilberg is with the Medical Group Management Association, which helps doctors run the business end of their practices.

Gilberg: The way you have to go about checking eligibility for each plan would be different, there’s not one way, like, one portal, to check it.

Gilberg says checking eligibility is a significant burden and expense for practices. Consumer advocates acknowledge the hassle, but say increasing access to preventive services will pay huge dividends.

[Photo: CPR News]