Federal agencies have come down on the side of maximizing the scope of major medical plan preventive services benefits requirements in a new batch of guidance.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Treasury Department give their views on how employers, insurers and others should interpret the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) preventive services coverage mandate in a new set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about PPACA implementation.
PPACA requires the HHS secretary to work with an HHS medical advisory panel to develop a set of preventive benefits that appear to greatly improve the quality of health care. Health insurers and employer plans are supposed to cover the products and services in the package without imposing deductibles or other cost-sharing requirements on patients who get that form of preventive care from a provider in the plan’s provider network.
In some cases, employers with conscience-based objections to the contraceptive coverage requirement may be able to get a complete or partial exemption.
Critics have argued that insurers and plans have been finding ways to hold down preventive services package costs by taking measures that, from the critics’ perspective, amount to skimping on benefits. In New York state, for example, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has objected to reports that health insurers are refusing to provide birth control benefits for men, or refusing to cover attractive brand-name prescription drugs when cheaper but less convenient generic alternatives exist.
For a look at what Obama administration regulators said the federal guidance issued today, read on.