What is preventive care?

This has been a common scene for us lately. My sister and I were on vacation last week when I had a minor scare related to the pregnancy. Stubborn baby decided not to move for a few hours. I squeezed in a quick appointment with the women's care center to run some simple tests and then we were on our way, but not before the billing department and I had a chat about fees. Since I was due for a maternal care check anyway and fetal movement is something my doctors monitor on a regular basis, they were able to get our visit covered under the preventive care provision of the Affordable Care Act.

All that means is that our little stint in the hospital was FREE for me. Yay!

All about preventive care. Which services you can get regularly without paying additional co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles (this is hugely important for pregnant women and parents to know to help provide for their child's health).

My sister commented that I must have the best insurance on the planet if I can see a doctor without a huge bill getting slapped in my face. She seemed surprised that I'd nonchalantly get hooked up to a bunch of fancy-looking machines without stressing cost, and it occurred to me that a lot of pregnant women might avoid visits due to money concerns. I do remember being worried about it when I was pregnant with Some Boy and this exact same situation came up.

Fortunately, a lot has changed in healthcare over the last few years. There are now a ton of services included with insurance at NO additional cost: no co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles. The Affordable Care Act ensures that the monthly premium you pay is sufficient to cover anything qualified as “preventive services” including wellness check-ups, routine screening for blood pressure and diabetes and cholesterol, regular vaccinations, mammograms and colonoscopies and more.

I remind my dad of this provision annually. He's one of those sorts who is too dang stubborn to initiate a doctor's visit when he's sick, but if a service is included he feels like he should take advantage of what he's “owed.” I just do my best to harass the man into good health.

The logic behind the preventive care measure, in my mind, is that basic coverage for these issues will stop treatable stuff from snowballing into major problems that could stress our hospitals and the overall wellness budget of our nation. The United States isn't exactly known for being super-healthy, but we're taking steps in the right direction.

In order to be exempt from co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles, a service has to be classified as “preventive.” It's not an ongoing health condition, but rather a medical check done BEFORE symptoms arise. For example, you can get an annual pap smear for free but if you squat on poison ivy while camping and need a doctor to assess your urgent itch…there will probably be a cost share for that.

This may or may not be a story lifted directly from one of my friends who shall remain unnamed.

Do you take advantage of your preventive care coverage?