Dr. Paula Johnson is a key advisor on women’s health as a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Women’s Health Preventive Services.

The following post is based on a presentation on the Affordable Care Act given by Dr. Paula Johnson, Chief, Division of Women’s Health and Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Chronic disease accounts for seven out of ten deaths in the United States. These conditions are often preventable and largely treatable. Yet, Americans currently use preventive services at about half the recommended rate.

“Disease prevention is based on scientific and medical evidence. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure,” says Dr. Paula Johnson, Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Executive Director of the BWH Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology.

The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010, has made preventive services financially accessible for millions of Americans. The law provides for a range of important preventive health services to be included in your health plan, with no co-payments, co-insurance, or deductibles. Examples include:

• Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests;
• Cancer screenings, including mammograms, colonoscopies, and Pap tests;
• Counseling on quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression, reducing alcohol use, and more;
• Routine vaccinations against diseases, such as measles, polio, or meningitis;
• Flu and pneumonia shots;
• Additional eight specific preventive services for women, including well-woman visits, contraception, domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling, counseling for sexually transmitted infections, human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years for women over 30, counseling and screening for human immune-deficiency virus (HIV), gestational diabetes screening, and breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.

The full list of preventive services for men, women, and children under the Affordable Care Act can be viewed here.

Dr. Johnson was a key advisor on areas critical for women’s health as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Women’s Health Preventive Services recommending the specific preventive services for women, including pregnant women, under the Affordable Care Act. These additional provisions for women are required to be covered by new health plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012.

“Women’s health is a major determinant of the health of communities and future generations,” explains Dr. Johnson. “The Affordable Care Act is especially beneficial for women, as they typically utilize more medical services than men, have higher annual health care expenses, and face more challenges affording care. Women also are disproportionately impacted by chronic illness.”

– Jessica F.

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