“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. Please note that some of these preventive care services may require a referral from your primary care doctor.
- 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 ask your doctor about a specific health concern or condition, 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.
- 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 risks.
- Prenatal checkups — Expectant mothers have access to many different pregnancy benefits including free prenatal checkups, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings, and anemia and gestational diabetes screenings.
- Well-baby and well-child exams — Your child has coverage for all wellness exams, which will address their immunization schedule, 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 months to 18 months old
• 2 years old
• 2 1/2 years old
• Once per year from age 3 years through 18 years old
- 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 you to access different types of care such as depression screenings, alcohol misuse screenings and counseling, tobacco use counseling, and domestic abuse counseling. Talk to your primary care doctor about these services.
- Annual well-woman exam — Every year, women can visit their OBGYN or primary care doctor for a well-woman exam.
- Reproductive health benefits — Most health plans offer reproductive health benefits like free contraception, counseling, and STI screenings for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Cancer prevention benefits — The best way to treat cancer is with early detection. Your primary care doctor might recommend one of several preventive services including breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, colon cancer screenings, lung cancer screenings and skin cancer counseling.
- Heart health benefits — You can keep your heart healthy with covered blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, as well as aspirin coverage.