Affordable Care Act covers preventative care

Posted at: 10/09/2013 1:58 PM
Updated at: 10/09/2013 2:00 PM
By: Erika Edwards, NBC News

Photo: Source: NBC News

(NBC News) -- Beginning January 1st a wellness checkup will be free under the Affordable Care Act.

By law dozens of preventive health tests will be covered by insurance, meaning no co-pay or deductible to meet in order to have these exams when patients see doctors in their network.

"Some of these services range from colonoscopy, mammography, blood pressure screening, cholesterol determination, diabetes control, smoking cessation programs," explains Dr. William Schaffner, professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Disease at Vanderbilt University.

Also included are diet and obesity counseling, depression screening and STD testing. 

All vaccines will be covered as well.

Women can now be screened for osteoporosis and HPV at no cost to them, and those with a high risk for breast cancer can be counseled on genetic testing for the disease. 

Employer-based plans will also be required to offer these tests for free.

"A lot of this is about behavior and lifestyle modification, trying to prevent some of the diseases that are a huge drain on our healthcare system as well as deadly to our patients," explains Dr. Reid Blackwelder, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Screening tests will be offered to patients who meet the age requirements.

Doctors say today's investment in preventive care should be returned in the form of lower health care costs and longer, healthier lives.