As elements of the new nationwide health care plan unfold, women are seeing some of plan’s first major benefits. Starting Wednesday, new and renewing health insurance plans are required to offer a number of preventative health services to women, including birth control at no up-front cost.

According to an article from NPR, Health and Human Services Secretary and former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, is more than pleased with these new benefits and coverage options for women, pointing out that insurance plans rarely covered basic women’s health services and often required high deductibles and co-payments prior to the Affordable Care Act’s enforcement.

In a press conference held on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sebelius gave a detailed description of what the new benefits include. “All new insurance plans will be required to cover additional services and tests for women, with no out-of-pocket costs, including domestic violence screenings, FDA-approved contraception, breast feeding counseling and supplies, and a well woman visit, where she can sit down and talk with her health care provider.”

In addition, the new mandate also requires HPV DNA testing for women 30 years or older, sexually transmitted infections counseling and HIV screenings and counseling for sexually-active women, and gestational diabetes screenings to help protect women from serious pregnancy-related diseases.

“President Obama is moving our country forward by giving women control over their health care,” said Sebelius. “This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions.”

For women without health insurance, however, an appointment to assess their birth control needs can cost anywhere between $35 and $250, according to Planned Parenthood. And from there, the actual prescription costs can range between $15-$50 a month. But for women already under health coverage, this means total birth control coverage with no up-front costs.

For an idea of how many women the mandate will touch, an estimate given by the Department of Health and Human Services noted that 47 million women are currently enrolled in health plans that will be affected by the law’s new requirements. These benefits will take effect as health plans are renewed.

Fifty-eight lawsuits have already been filed in protest of the mandate, namely from small and private businesses fighting the law on the basis of religious discrimination. This includes one heating and air conditioning company in Colorado that argues the new mandate violates their Catholic beliefs. Aside from these cases, the mandate takes immediate effect for everyone else.

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