By Katie Rogers and Ruth SpencerMany basic healthcare options for US women, including birth control and annual “well-woman” check-ups, become free on Wednesday as provisions in the Affordable Care Act come into force.
The new rules mean that many women will no longer have to stump up for “co-pays” or out-of-pocket expenses.
“Women in need of preventive health care services will be able to take a giant step forward to have access to the care they need without the barriers of cost or discrimination,” Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Does this really mean condoms, mammograms, pap smears for all? Not really. But an estimated 47 million women will benefit from the changes.
The provisions, which apply to new or renewed insurance plans, have kicked in one tumultuous year after the US department of health and human services recommended that birth control be categorized as preventive care and covered under insurance plans.
And, ladies, what a year it was for our health: Not only was the phrase “transvaginal probe” introduced into the public vernacular, but we also withstood shock-jock attacks, male-only contraception hearings on Capitol Hill and plenty of threats that the entire contraception policy would be overturned.
It should be noted, though, that while contraception is the most talked about part of the provisions, it’s not the only service provided. Screening and counseling for domestic violence victims and annual well-woman visits are among the additional, basic healthcare services that will no be more affordable for women under their insurance.
Other categories include breastfeeding supplies, HIV screening and testing for cervical cancer.
If you’re curious about how the new provisions may work for you, the National Council of Jewish Women put together this explainer, which the funny ladies at Jezebel have turned into a “How to Score Your Copay-Free Birth Control” guide.)
Tell us: how much do you currently pay?
Since the cost of contraception prices vary from woman to woman, we want to know how much you currently pay for your birth control in order to illustrate the disparity. If you don’t want to fill out the form, use #ContraceptionCosts on Twitter to share with us.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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