Preventive Care and Wellness Services: Coverage and Costs
Preventive services, such as vaccines and screenings, can help you avoid certain diseases and catch others in their early stages, to limit the harm they can cause. Wellness services, such as weight management and stress reduction, can help you adopt a healthy lifestyle. To find out what preventive and wellness services are recommended for you or your family, talk to your doctor and see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prevention Checklist.
Federal law requires most health insurance plans to provide certain preventive services at no cost to you. The services are categorized as being for all adults, women or children. For full details, including guidelines about life stages when you should receive the services, see HealthCare.gov’s information here. When using these services, remember these points:
- Get the service from a doctor or other provider in your health plan’s network.
- Related services (such as a biopsy performed as a result of a screening test) may not be free.
- Some older plans may be exempt from the law.
- The law doesn’t require health plans to cover every kind of preventive service for free, just the specified ones.
Many employers offer workplace wellness initiatives, such as dietary counseling and on-site exercise programs. Some employers may offer financial incentives or other rewards to employees who take part in wellness programs. Ask your employer if such a program is offered at your workplace.
You’re probably used to going to a doctor when you feel sick. But, to prevent illness, it also can be important to seek healthcare when you feel well. With preventive services, such as vaccines and cancer screenings, you can avoid certain diseases and catch others in their early stages, before they have a chance to cause much harm. With wellness services, such as weight management, stress reduction and physical fitness training, you can adopt a lifestyle that can keep you in good health, with less chance of getting sick.
Preventive and wellness services don’t need to be costly. Federal law requires many health insurance plans to provide certain screenings and other services for free. Even if not required, some insurers and employers provide such services because they make good business sense. Preventing disease often costs insurers less than treating it. Wellness programs can enable employers to help their employees stay healthy and thereby increase productivity and reduce use of sick days.
Even though your health plan may entitle you to some free preventive and wellness services, they can help you only if you know about and use them. In this guide, you’ll learn about:
- Types of preventive and wellness services;
- Which preventive services are available to you for free; and
- Workplace wellness programs your employer may offer.