MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Free contraceptives are now the law. President Barack Obama's "Affordable Care Act" went into effect Wednesday, August 1, 2012. It requires insurance companies to cover a wide range of early detection services without co-payments or other costs but there are exceptions.
One pharmacist told abc24.com many health insurance plans already cover preventive tests, screenings, and immunizations 100-percent. Now there's a new comprehensive list of services that weren't covered by some insurance companies before August 1st, but not everyone has to follow the new rules.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover things such as prenatal and postnatal care, birth control pills, breastfeeding supplies, and even domestic violence counseling. Women are thrilled.
"I think it's terrific. It’s long overdue,” said a Memphian Laura Maceli. “Women's health has been put on the back burner for way too long."
"If people need it and it's preventive care, I think it's a good thing,” said another supporter Marquita Dunn.
Here are some other things to keep in mind under the new health care law: (1) You may not be covered right away; the new benefits will only be activated for plans that begin or are renewed on or after August 1st. So even if you're already insured it may be months before you see any changes. (2) Some plans can stick with the old rules. People have the right to keep their old coverage, called "grandfathered health plans", if they had it before the health care law was enacted on March 23, 2010. (3) Plans may charge cost sharing for brand name drugs.
Not every employer is required to follow the new rules, at least not right away.
"The religious institutions don't have to implement this fully until another year,” said a pharmacist at the Madison Pharmacy, Rende Ginn.
Hospitals and schools with religious affiliations can wait until 2014 to offer birth control pills. Churches are exempt from this rule.
“Religious liberty will be protected and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women,” said President Barack Obama earlier this week.
If you're still not sure about all the changes, Ginn has this advice, "If you ever question your benefits you need to call your insurance company and make sure that you're getting everything that you are paying for."
If you would like to see the complete list about what services are covered and to see if you qualify, visit www.healthcare.gov