Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines

On December 20, 2016, HRSA updated the HRSA-supported Women's Preventive Services Guidelines. Read the most current version.

Non-grandfathered plans and coverage (generally, plans or policies created or sold after March 23, 2010, or older plans or policies that have been changed in certain ways since that date) are required to provide coverage without cost sharing consistent with these guidelines beginning with the first plan year (in the individual market policy year) that begins on or after December 20, 2017. Before that time, non-grandfathered plans are generally required to provide coverage without cost sharing consistent with the 2011 guidelines.

Affordable Care Act Expands Prevention Coverage for Women’s Health and Well-Being

The Affordable Care Act – the health insurance reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 – helps make prevention affordable and accessible for all Americans by requiring health plans to cover preventive services and by eliminating cost sharing for those services. Preventive services that have strong scientific evidence of their health benefits must be covered and plans can no longer charge a patient a copayment, coinsurance or deductible for these services when they are delivered by a network provider.

Women's Preventive Services Guidelines Supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration

Under the Affordable Care Act, women’s preventive health care – such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services – generally must be covered with no cost sharing. However, the law recognizes and HHS understands the need to take into account the unique health needs of women throughout their lifespan.

The HRSA-supported health plan coverage guidelines, developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), will help ensure that women receive a comprehensive set of preventive services without having to pay a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible. HHS commissioned an IOM study to review what preventive services are necessary for women’s health and well-being and therefore should be considered in the development of comprehensive guidelines for preventive services for women. HRSA is supporting the IOM’s recommendations on preventive services that address health needs specific to women and fill gaps in existing guidelines.

Health Resources and Services Administration Women's Preventive Services Guidelines

Non-grandfathered plans (plans or policies created or sold after March 23, 2010, or older plans or policies that have been changed in certain ways since that date) generally are required to provide coverage without cost sharing consistent with these guidelines in the first plan year (in the individual market, policy year) that begins on or after August 1, 2012.

Type of Preventive Service HHS Guideline for Health
Insurance Coverage
Frequency
Well-woman visits. Well-woman preventive care visit annually for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services that are age and developmentally appropriate, including preconception care and many services necessary for prenatal care. This well-woman visit should, where appropriate, include other preventive services listed in this set of guidelines, as well as others referenced in section 2713. Annual, although HHS recognizes that several visits may be needed to obtain all necessary recommended preventive services, depending on a woman’s health status, health needs, and other risk factors.* (see note)
Screening for gestational diabetes. Screening for gestational diabetes. In pregnant women between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation and at the first prenatal visit for pregnant women identified to be at high risk for diabetes.  
Human papillomavirus testing. High-risk human papillomavirus DNA testing in women with normal cytology results. Screening should begin at 30 years of age and should occur no more frequently than every 3 years.
Counseling for sexually transmitted infections. Counseling on sexually transmitted infections for all sexually active women. Annual.
Counseling and screening for human immune-deficiency virus. Counseling and screening for human immune-deficiency virus infection for all sexually active women. Annual
Contraceptive methods and counseling. ** (see note) All Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity. As prescribed
Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling. Comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, and costs for renting breastfeeding equipment. In conjunction with each birth
Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence. Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence.  

 * Refer to guidance issued by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight entitled Affordable Care Act Implementation FAQs, Set 12, Q10.  

**(I)(a) Objecting entities—religious beliefs.

(1) These Guidelines do not provide for or support the requirement of coverage or payments for contraceptive services with respect to a group health plan established or maintained by an objecting organization, or health insurance coverage offered or arranged by an objecting organization, and thus the Health Resources and Service Administration exempts from any Guidelines requirements issued under 45 CFR 147.130(a)(1)(iv) that relate to the provision of contraceptive services:
(i) A group health plan and health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan to the extent the non-governmental plan sponsor objects as specified in paragraph (I)(a)(2) of this note. Such non-governmental plan sponsors include, but are not limited to, the following entities:
(A) A church, an integrated auxiliary of a church, a convention or association of churches, or a religious order;
(B) A nonprofit organization;
(C) A closely held for-profit entity;
(D) A for-profit entity that is not closely held; or
(E) Any other non-governmental employer;
(ii) An institution of higher education as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1002 in its arrangement of student health insurance coverage, to the extent that institution objects as specified in paragraph (I)(a)(2) of this note. In the case of student health insurance coverage, section (I) of this note is applicable in a manner comparable to its applicability to group health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan established or maintained by a plan sponsor that is an employer, and references to “plan participants and beneficiaries” will be interpreted as references to student enrollees and their covered dependents; and
(iii) A health insurance issuer offering group or individual insurance coverage to the extent the issuer objects as specified in paragraph (I)(a)(2) of this note. Where a health insurance issuer providing group health insurance coverage is exempt under this paragraph (I)(a)(1)(iii), the plan remains subject to any requirement to provide coverage for contraceptive services under these Guidelines unless it is also exempt from that requirement.

(2) The exemption of this paragraph (I)(a) will apply to the extent that an entity described in paragraph (I)(a)(1) of this note objects to its establishing, maintaining, providing, offering, or arranging (as applicable) coverage, payments, or a plan that provides coverage or payments for some or all contraceptive services, based on its sincerely held religious beliefs.
(b) Objecting individuals—religious beliefs. These Guidelines do not provide for or support the requirement of coverage or payments for contraceptive services with respect to individuals who object as specified in this paragraph (I)(b), and nothing in 45 CFR 147.130(a)(1)(iv), 26 CFR 54.9815–2713(a) (1)(iv), or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713(a)(1)(iv) may be construed to prevent a willing health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, and as applicable, a willing plan sponsor of a group health plan, from offering a separate benefit package option, or a separate policy, certificate or contract of insurance, to any individual who objects to coverage or payments for some or all contraceptive services based on sincerely held religious beliefs.

(II)(a) Objecting entities—moral convictions.

(1) These Guidelines do not provide for or support the requirement of coverage or payments for contraceptive services with respect to a group health plan established or maintained by an objecting organization, or health insurance coverage offered or arranged by an objecting organization, and thus the Health Resources and Service Administration exempts from any Guidelines requirements issued under 45 CFR 147.130(a)(1)(iv) that relate to the provision of contraceptive services:
(i) A group health plan and health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan to the extent one of the following non-governmental plan sponsors object as specified in paragraph (II)(a)(2) of this note:
(A) A nonprofit organization; or
(B) A for-profit entity that has no publicly traded ownership interests (for this purpose, a publicly traded ownership interest is any class of common equity securities required to be registered under section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934);
(ii) An institution of higher education as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1002 in its arrangement of student health insurance coverage, to the extent that institution objects as specified in paragraph (II)(a)(2) of this note. In the case of student health insurance coverage, section (I) of this note is applicable in a manner comparable to its applicability to group health insurance coverage provided in connection with a group health plan established or maintained by a plan sponsor that is an employer, and references to “plan participants and beneficiaries” will be interpreted as references to student enrollees and their covered dependents; and
(iii) A health insurance issuer offering group or individual insurance coverage to the extent the issuer objects as specified in paragraph (II)(a)(2) of this note. Where a health insurance issuer providing group health insurance coverage is exempt under this paragraph (II)(a)(1)(iii), the group health plan established or maintained by the plan sponsor with which the health insurance issuer contracts remains subject to any requirement to provide coverage for contraceptive services under these Guidelines unless it is also exempt from that requirement.

(2) The exemption of this paragraph (II)(a) will apply to the extent that an entity described in paragraph (II)(a)(1) of this note objects to its establishing, maintaining, providing, offering, or arranging (as applicable) coverage or payments for some or all contraceptive services, or for a plan, issuer, or third party administrator that provides or arranges such coverage or payments, based on its sincerely held moral convictions.
(b) Objecting individuals—moral convictions. These Guidelines do not provide for or support the requirement of coverage or payments for contraceptive services with respect to individuals who object as specified in this paragraph (II)(b), and nothing in § 147.130(a)(1)(iv), 26 CFR 54.9815–2713(a) (1)(iv), or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713(a)(1)(iv) may be construed to prevent a willing health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, and as applicable, a willing plan sponsor of a group health plan, from offering a separate policy, certificate or contract of insurance or a separate group health plan or benefit package option, to any individual who objects to coverage or payments for some or all contraceptive services based on sincerely held moral convictions.

(III) Definition. For the purposes of this note, reference to “contraceptive” services, benefits, or coverage includes contraceptive or sterilization items, procedures, or services, or related patient education or counseling, to the extent specified for purposes of these Guidelines.

See Federal Register Notice: Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act (PDF - 488 kb).

HRSA, in concert with an external review committee, will review, and continually update, the Women’s Preventive Services' Guidelines.

 

Date Last Reviewed:  October 2017