Experts offer the following tips for avoiding surprise medical bills for preventive care:
- Call your insurance plan - the 800-number on the back of your insurance card - to find out whether the plan must comply with the Affordable Care Act. If your plan is "grandfathered," it's exempt from the law's requirement to pay for preventive care.
- When scheduling an appointment or talking with your doctor, clarify that you're coming in for a covered preventive service and you don't expect to be charged. The doctor must be in your health plan's network.
- If you're hit with an unexpected bill, call the doctor's office and ask how the bill was submitted. Was it submitted as a preventive care service?
- Complain to your state's insurance department if you believe you've been billed in error.
The following is a partial list of services that should be covered without copays or other cost-sharing by the patient:
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
- Aspirin use for men and women of certain ages
- Blood pressure screening for all adults
- Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk
- Colorectal cancer screening for adults, starting at age 50
- Depression screening for adults -Type 2 diabetes screening for adults with high blood pressure -Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
- HIV screening for all adults at higher risk -Flu shots and other recommended vaccines for adults and children -Obesity screening and counseling for adults and children
- Tobacco use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users -Breast cancer mammography screenings every 1 to 2 years for women over 40 -Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women
- Folic acid supplements for women who may become pregnant
- Osteoporosis screening for women over age 60 depending on risk factors
- Autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
- Depression screening for adolescents
- Fluoride supplements for children without fluoride in their water source
- Hearing screening for all newborns
Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Georgetown University Health Policy Institute
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)