HRSA Takes Next Step in Updating the Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Today, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced an update to the Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines.  The Guidelines aim to improve women’s health across the lifespan by identifying preventive services and screenings to be used in clinical practice.  The updated guidelines apply to plan years (or policy years in the individual market) beginning on or after December 20, 2017.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 55 million women with private insurance now have access to a full range of preventive services like mammograms, flu shots, and contraception without a copay or deductible.  By law, certain health plans or health insurance issuers are required to cover specified preventive services without a copayment, coinsurance, deductible, or other cost-sharing, including preventive care and screenings for women as provided for in comprehensive guidelines supported by HRSA for this purpose.

The Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines were originally established in 2011 based on recommendations from a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) commissioned study conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now known as the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). In 2011, IOM recommended that HHS periodically update the review of women’s preventive services, citing a five-year cycle of reevaluation as a common benchmark for clinical practice guidelines.

Since 2011, there have been advancements in science and gaps identified in the existing guidelines, including a need for greater emphasis on practice-based clinical considerations. To address these issues, HRSA is supporting a five-year cooperative agreement to convene a coalition, called the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI) of clinician, academic, and consumer-focused health professional organizations and conduct a scientifically rigorous review, led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  WPSI’s recommendations for updating the Guidelines were developed in accordance with the model created by the NAM Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust.

HRSA is supporting WPSI’s clinical recommendations, as listed on HRSA’s 2016 Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines website. A total of nine recommended services are outlined in the updated guidelines including: 1) a breast cancer screening recommendation that average-risk women initiate mammography screening no earlier than age 40 and no later than age 50; 2) women have access to the full range of female-controlled contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancy and improve birth outcomes; 3) and that women receive preventive care through well woman visits. Topics for future consideration can be submitted on a rolling basis at the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative website HRSA Exit Disclaimer.


The Health Resources and Services Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  HRSA is the primary Federal agency responsible for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable.  For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit

Date Last Reviewed:  March 2017