The Affordable Care Act and Adolescents. Preventive Health Services with No Co-Pay


Health promotion, disease prevention, early intervention, and timely treatment of conditions can improve the health status of adolescents and reduce the incidence of chronic conditions in adulthood.  The Affordable Care Act (adding new Section 2713 to the Public Health Service Act) seeks to make prevention affordable by requiring most private health insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without cost-sharing, meaning not subject to deductibles or co-pays/coinsurance. The Affordable Care Act identified specific sources for these recommendations for preventive services, including the United States Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendations with an “A” or “B” rating,  the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (such as Bright Futures for children and adolescents and the guidelines for women’s clinical preventive services).  Recommended preventive services and screenings are now covered with no out-of-pocket costs, including immunizations, behavioral assessments for adolescents, obesity screening, FDA-approved contraception and patient education counseling, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling and screening for sexually active adolescents.  In a national survey, about ten percent of youth ages 12-17 reported any illicit drug use in the past month and eight percent reported cigarette use in the past month.8  An estimated 31 percent of children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese.9   Teenagers are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than older females.  Among women ages 19 and younger, more than 4 out of 5 pregnancies are unintended.10

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