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9 free preventive care benefits

By The Health News Team | February 20, 2024
Doctor providing a patient assessment

Did you know that your health insurance does much more than help you pay for health care when you’re sick or injured? It also covers free preventive care benefits, such as exams, screenings and vaccines, that can help keep you and your family healthy.

Keeping up with preventive services can help you to recognize health concerns early and support your overall health and well-being, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

“Many preventive services, like screenings and tests, are available at no additional out-of-pocket cost,” explains Don Truong, director of sales at Sharp Health Plan. “Taking advantage of these free services can help reduce your health care costs over time by keeping you and your family healthy.”

Here are nine things most health insurance plans cover at no additional charge when received within your network. Some of these preventive care services may require a referral from your primary care doctor.

  1. Preventive care visits.
    Preventive care visits are intended to help prevent illnesses by evaluating your current state of health and discussing how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you schedule a preventive care visit and then ask your doctor about a specific health concern or condition at your appointment, your doctor may bill you for the visit. You should plan to schedule your annual preventive care visit at least two months in advance to accommodate a potentially busy doctor’s office.

  2. Preventive vaccines.
    Protect yourself from common illnesses by staying up to date on your vaccines. Most health insurance covers vaccines for the flu, chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, MMR, HPV, DPT, polio and more. Your primary care doctor will recommend the necessary vaccines for your age and personal risks.

  3. Prenatal checkups.
    Expectant people have access to many different pregnancy benefits including free prenatal checkups as well as screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), anemia and gestational diabetes.

  4. Well-baby and well-child exams.
    Children have coverage for all wellness exams, which will address their immunization schedule and measure their growth, nourishment and development. Children typically receive wellness exams on the following schedule:

    * Directly after birth
    * 1 week old
    * 1 month old
    * 2 months old
    * 4 months old
    * Every 3 months from age 6 to 18 months
    * 2 years old
    * 2 1/2 years old
    * Once a year from age 3 through 18 years 

  5. Mental health and substance abuse screening
    Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Most health insurance covers mental health and substance abuse preventive care, allowing people to access different types of care, such as depression and alcohol misuse screenings; and alcohol misuse, tobacco use and domestic abuse counseling. Talk to your primary care doctor about these services.

  6. Annual well-woman exam
    Every year, women can visit their OBGYN or primary care doctor for a well-woman exam without a referral. This may also be called a wellness visit. This visit is a good time to discuss any concerns you may have about your period, birth control, Pap tests, breast exams or mammograms.

  7. Reproductive health benefits
    Most health plans offer reproductive health benefits such as free contraception, counseling and sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

  8. Cancer prevention benefits
    The best way to treat cancer is with early detection. Cancer screenings offer opportunities for earlier detection and prevention. Your primary care doctor might recommend one of several preventive screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and skin cancer.

  9. Heart health benefits
    You can keep your heart healthy with covered blood pressure and cholesterol screenings as well as aspirin coverage.

For the best member experience, please check your member handbook (also called your evidence of coverage or EOC) to verify what is covered under your specific plan. If you’re enrolled in benefits with Sharp Health Plan, you can access your EOC by logging in to your Sharp Health Plan online account.

Sharp Health Plan offers preventive care resources. Download convenient preventive care checklists for your next appointment and learn more about available services.

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