Did you know that there’s a lot of free care that’s included in all health insurance plans? In fact, the Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance plans to cover many preventive care services for free to the patient—that means you don’t pay anything, not even your copay or deductible.
How Do I Get Health Insurance?
Open Enrollment is November 1 – December 15. This is the period of time in which you can research and sign up for a plan.
While you can buy health insurance directly from healthcare.gov or your local state exchange, our Sittercity partnership with Stride makes the whole process a lot easier. Stride will search through all of the health insurance plans available to you, recommend the best plan for your needs, and see if you’re eligible for savings. Using Stride is free, and on average, Stride users save $410 per month on health insurance, and 40% pay less than $25 per month for health insurance. Finding a plan usually takes less than 10 minutes and you can do it right from your phone.
What Free Care Comes With Health Insurance?
Our friends at Stride have put together a comprehensive list of everything that comes for free with your plan so you can make the most of your health insurance.
Preventive Checkups and Screenings
All adults have access to free preventive care, including annual screenings and checkups. There are over 15 free services, valued at hundreds of dollars, that you can take advantage of to keep you healthy throughout the year. These free services include:
If you’re worried about your health…
- Diabetes (Type 2) screening: for overweight and obese adults between the ages of 40 and 70.
- Blood pressure screening (normally costs $80 to $100 without insurance)
- HIV screening: for everyone between the ages of 15 and 65, as well as other at-risk populations.
- Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or groups at higher risk. (Usually costs about $100 without insurance.)
- Hepatitis B and C screening for adults with an increased risk.
- Colorectal cancer screening for adults over 50. (Usually costs $2000 or more without insurance!)
- Lung cancer screening for adults between the ages of 55 and 80 at high risk for lung cancer due to smoking.
- Tuberculosis screening: for a subset of at-risk adults.
- Syphilis screening: for adults at increased risk.
If you want to improve your health…
- Depression screening
- Tobacco use screening for all adults, as well as interventions to help tobacco users stop.
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling for anyone who abuses alcohol or is in danger of abusing alcohol.
- Diet counseling for adults at an increased risk for chronic disease like heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. This aims to help adults prevent expensive illnesses (like heart disease) down the road by teaching healthy eating habits, food science, and the role sugar and fat have on overall health.
- Obesity screening and counseling
Be sure to talk to your primary care physician about which of these screenings are right (and most important) for you!
Routine preventive vaccines that are recommended by the Center for Disease Control are completely free with any Affordable Care Act plan. While the doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary, the free vaccines usually include:
- Influenza (the flu shot!)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Herpes Zoster
- Varicella (aka chickenpox)
These vaccines typically cost around $100 each, but with health insurance, it comes at no cost to you. Be sure to consult with your doctor about what previous vaccines you’ve had, as well as what’s recommended for you.
Free Annual Wellness Visits for Women
Women have access to an annual wellness visit, as well as a large range of additional free services. Here are a couple of examples of what you might want to take advantage of:
- If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you might want a gestational diabetes screening, a Hepatitis B screening, anemia testing, or tobacco counseling (if you need to quit).
- If you’re a new mother, you might want to take advantage of the breastfeeding counseling and support benefit.
- If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, you have access to birth control at no cost. By law, your health insurance covers one generic type of birth control in each of the 18 categories. This includes the pill, the patch, IUDs, NuvaRing, and even the Morning-After Pill.
Other free services available specifically for women:
- Cervical cancer screening
- Breast cancer screening (mammograms)
- Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
Free Care Available to Children
Children have access to a variety of free annual screenings and checkups. The exact services vary by age, but here are a few examples:
0-11 months old
Many of the services provided during your “well-baby” visits are covered at no cost. On average, you can expect 6 well-baby visits during the first year. At these visits, your doctor will make sure your baby is meeting developmental milestones in height and weight, as well as milestones in brain development.
1-4 years old
Your child will have “well-child” visits—on average about 7 over the course of 3 years. Your doctor will continue to monitor your child’s growth and development as well as give your child any immunizations.
5-10 years old
By this time your child only needs to see the doctor for one primary care visit per year. Your child will continue to be monitored for growth goals.
11-17 years old
Your child will continue having one wellness visit each year. These visits will begin to focus on physical and emotional changes. Your doctor will check in on your child’s physical development, as well as emotional well-being.
Other free services available specifically to children include:
- Alcohol and drug use assessments
- Hearing and vision screenings
- Oral health risk screenings
- Sexually transmitted infection screening and counseling for adolescents at higher risk
Even More Free Care (Not From ACA)
Some insurance companies offer additional free or discounted benefits as part of their plans. You can find out if a plan you’re interested in on Stride offers these additional benefits by checking the “Free Care” section for that plan.
If you already have insurance, call the member services number on the back of your card to learn about your specific plans additional benefits.
Here’s to the free things in life!