What Qualifies as Free Preventive Care Under Obamacare? - NerdWallet

What Qualifies as Free Preventive Care Under Obamacare?


Chances are you’ve heard about free preventive care under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But what actually counts as “preventive care”?

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First things first. We all understand that preventive medicine helps us to reduce the risk of certain diseases or conditions later on in life — and we’ve heard that, in the long-term, it can reduce our nation’s health care costs. We are inundated with daily pubic service announcements telling us to eat right and exercise more, but despite staggering evidence of the consequences of poor health habits, we refuse to change. Why? For a number of reasons — but for many individuals affordability is the direct or indirect cause.

Now imagine that instead of being told, “Spend more doing X and you won’t get disease Y,” you’re told that you only have take a test to determine your risk for disease Y. These screenings come with easy-to-implement advice on how to reduce your risk for said disease, and if you take the test at the right time, it could save, extend, and/or improve your quality of life. Wouldn’t you be more likely to take this test and be more invested in its outcome, if you’re told that it comes at zero cost to you? This is the premise behind expanding free preventive care services under Obamacare.

What counts as preventive care?

If your plan is “grandfathered” — that is, created or bought before March 31, 2010 — then these preventive care provisions may not apply to you. But all of the new plans available are required to include free preventive care to all subscribers — no matter which type of plan you purchase.

Let’s get right down to it. The free preventive care available to all adults includes:

  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Depression screening
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Tobacco use screening
  • Immunization vaccines for adults-doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:
    • Hepatitis A
    • Hepatitis B
    • Herpes Zoster
    • Human Papillomavirus
    • Influenza (Flu Shot)
    • Measles, Mumps, Rubella
    • Meningococcal
    • Pneumococcal
    • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
    • Varicella

Qualified preventive care services

The following interventions also qualify as free preventive care, but are only available to certain groups, and may only be available a certain number of times. Make sure you fit the demographic before signing up for a “free” screening.

  • One-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm – but only for men of specified ages who have ever smoked
  • Aspirin – when used to prevent cardiovascular disease for men and women of certain ages
  • Breast Cancer Genetic Test Counseling (BRCA)—for women at a higher risk for breast cancer
  • Cholesterol screening – for adults of certain ages or at higher risk
  • Colorectal cancer screening – for adults over 50
  • Diabetes (Type 2) screening – for adults with high blood pressure
  • Diet counseling – for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
  • HIV screening – for everyone ages 15 to 65, and other ages at increased risk
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention counseling – for adults at higher risk
  • Syphilis screening – for all adults at higher risk
  • Tobacco cessation interventions – for tobacco users


Ask for more detailed information from your insurance provider, or visit HealthCare.gov.




Photo via of Shutterstock.

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