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Women’s health care provisions take effect Aug. 1

From doctors to bloggers, many called Wednesday a “great” day for women, as millions gained access to more free preventative health care services. The new provision under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act went into effect on August 1.

Doctor Jeffrey Baker said it’s a great opportunity for women to see their doctors more often. But, he said, he hopes practitioners will go beyond the checklist to look at the big picture and help improve overall health.

Does the “payment is due at time of service” sign stress you out at the doctor’s office? Well, lucky for some 47 million ladies, Wednesday meant eight new health care services without paying a dime.

“I have seen, even this week, seen some patients that are putting off birth control and things cause they know, ‘Hey, come Aug. 1,’ they’re going to start to get covered,” said Baker. “So, I have had a few like that.”

Baker, an OB-GYN with Rosemark Women’s Care, said he’s seen patients visit less often dueto costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, too, said more than half of U.S. women have delayed or avoided preventative care because of a co-pay or deductible.

The eight free services include well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screening, domestic violence screening and counseling, contraception, breastfeeding supplies, HPV DNA testing, sexually transmitted infections testing, and HIV screening and counseling.

“I think, no question, you’ll see more of them found earlier because of screening,” said Baker. “But I don’t know if it’s going to change the amounts of cancer.”

Baker said that comes down to lifestyle.

An HHS report said 47 million women are under health plans that will cover the services, but group plans and issuers that have “grandfathered” status don’t have to.

When it comes to birth control, schools and religious organizations are exempt after controversy earlier this year.

Rudy Ballard, of Ballard Insurance Group in Rexburg, said not to be surprised if premiums rise, because more coverage means more cost.

As Democrats praised the new benefits on Wednesday, Senate Republicans continued to call for a repeal of the health care law.

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