HEALTH

New free women's health benefits take effect

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More than a month after the Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's sweeping health care legislation, a number of free benefits for women are set to take effect Wednesday.

Starting Aug. 1, all new health insurance plans must provide eight preventive benefits to women for free, including breast and pelvic exams, domestic violence screening and counseling, HPV testing and prenatal care.

For woman already in plans with co-pays or deductibles for those services, they will also be free, starting at their plan's next renewal date.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a new day for women's health has finally arrived," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

As part of the law, women will have access to free contraceptives and free health services for certain procedures.

These benefits are a result of Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski's preventive health amendment.

"The top killers of women will now no longer go undetected," Mikulski said.

The Obama administration estimates that about 47 million women will be able to take advantage of the new benefits, but because of complicated grandfather clauses for many large insurance plans, only a tiny fraction will be able to immediately benefit.

ABC's Karen Travers contributed to this report.

 

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