A Note About "Free" Preventive Care

One of the popular benefits of the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare is the mandate that consumers not be charged for preventive care.
Now, we all know nothing is really free – you’re just paying these expected costs in your premium. So you may as well use them! Go to your doctor and get an annual checkup.
BUT... (it’s so tempting to talk about colonoscopies at this point… but we did that earlier.)
When you get to your doctor, or when you schedule the appointment, you need to have a conversation about what will be done. When the health law mandates that you receive preventive care, it also spells out what that means and what it doesn’t mean – which tests or checkups are to be covered and which are not.
Many people have walked out of a physical with a bill they weren’t expecting. So our advice is to talk with your doctor on the front end about it. He or she will probably know by now what is covered and what isn’t (or someone in the office will). Now, obviously the doctor may recommend tests that go beyond the ┬ámandates, and then it simply becomes your decision.
What’s covered may also depend on your age and gender. Women over 40, for example, can get a mammogram. For those under 40, it’s not covered. An annual OBGYN visit is also included, as are most of the basic recommended vaccines for young kids.
Another tip — if you schedule the appointment because you’re complaining about some symptom or ailment, or if you make these kinds of complaints with your doctor, subsequent tests might not be coded as “preventive.” We’re not saying don’t talk to your doctor — just make sure that conversation includes a discussion about how things will be coded so you don’t have any big surprises in your billing statement.