Putting Preventive Care Front and Center

ACOG has long been dedicated to the advancement of women’s health care, with particular focus on ensuring every woman has access to care in a safe, timely and affordable fashion. Over the last five years, this has included a dedicated effort to guarantee women coverage for the full range of necessary preventive services without additional out of pocket costs. Just five years ago, Dr. Jeanne Conry set this work in motion with her presidential initiative, Every Woman, Every Time. In the time since, we’re proud to say we’ve accomplished a lot, from generating new clinical guidance to support ob-gyns in the delivery of comprehensive care to advocating on behalf of women everywhere to protect their coverage.

Today, we’re marking the continuation of that progress with the launch of CareWomenDeserve.org, a campaign that brings together women’s health leaders to increase patients’ knowledge about covered preventive health services available. This project calls upon the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative, an ACOG led program that, since 2016, has focused on developing, reviewing, and updating recommendations for women’s preventive healthcare services, including HRSA-sponsored Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines.

Though the Affordable Care Act requires the coverage of these vital preventive health services for women, too many of our patients are unaware of the benefits available to them with no additional out of pocket costs. The services covered include annual well-woman visits, cervical and breast cancer screenings, breastfeeding support, contraceptive coverage and counseling, domestic violence screening and counseling, STI screening and counseling, and screening for gestational diabetes; and just recently it was announced this list would be expanded to include post-partum screening for diabetes and screening for urinary incontinence, beginning in 2019.

I do not have to impress upon you the importance of each of these services to helping our patients maintain healthy lives. When our patients receive proper, comprehensive preventive care they are less likely to suffer from undiagnosed or untreated conditions, and when they want to become pregnant, they have healthier pregnancies and births, that lead to healthier children.

Our role many times is to help our patients to first access care, and then to help them plan for what comprehensive care looks like for them at every age. For many women, this includes helping them navigate the health care system and identifying the care that’s already covered and available to them. CareWomenDeserve.org provides numerous resources that clearly identify covered preventive health services, and why they’re important to women – including young women who may feel that because they’re presently healthy they don’t need to come in for routine care!

We’re excited about this new campaign, and the part it will play in continuing to advance women’s health care. In the coming months, we hope to also expand this effort to include resources for providers to share in their offices to help increase patient awareness. Likewise, we’ll continue our parallel work and leadership on WPSI, to make sure the most up to date and evidence based content is available to women’s health care providers everywhere. In the meantime, let’s all commit to ensuring every patient gets the care she needs, when she needs it.

For more information about ACOG’s leadership on WPSI, please visit: https://www.acog.org/About-ACOG/ACOG-Departments/Annual-Womens-Health-Care/Womens-Preventive-Services-Initiative