16 Obamacare Services That Are Still Free


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The Affordable Care Act requires most health insurance plans to cover certain preventive-care services at no cost to the patient. President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers have sought for months to repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare, but for now, the following services are still free with no out-of-pocket costs, regardless of your deductible. It's important to note that diagnostic services, such as additional testing following a preventive screening, may involve a copay or other charges. Ask your provider and insurer about all possible costs.
(This article has been updated since its initial publication.)

Related: 10 Countries Where Americans Can Save Big on Medical Care

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Men over 65 who have ever smoked at any point in their lives are at the highest risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm, a condition that can be deadly without early detection. Men in this category can receive a free screening for the condition under the insurance provisions of the ACA. Such screenings can otherwise cost as much as $100.

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The ACA requires insurers to cover -- at no cost to the patient -- screening and counseling for anyone who abuses alcohol or is in danger of abusing alcohol. Generally, it is recommended that men consume no more than two drinks a day and that women consume no more than one drink a day.

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Some men and women at high risk for a heart attack or stroke can benefit from taking small doses of aspirin every day. Under the ACA, high-risk patients -- smokers, diabetics, and those with high blood pressure or cholesterol -- can get a free screening and consultation with a doctor to see if an aspirin regimen is right for them.

Related: 15 Free Ways to Protect Your Heart

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Under the ACA, insured adults can receive free screening for high blood pressure, a condition that affects 1 in 3 Americans. African-Americans and people who are obese are among those at the highest risk for the condition, which is also called hypertension. Such screening can otherwise cost $80 to $100.

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High cholesterol can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Adults 40 to 75 and people of all ages in certain high-risk groups should get their cholesterol checked regularly. The ACA requires insurers to cover at least one free cholesterol screening, a service that can cost $100.

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Adults over 50 can get a free screening for colorectal cancer thanks to coverage requirements under the ACA. Screenings can improve survival rates through early detection, or even prevent this type of cancer. Different types of screenings are available and should be discussed with a doctor. Colonoscopies can easily cost $2,000 or more.

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Insured adults can receive a free screening for depression under the ACA. Millions of adults are afflicted with depression, which is treatable in many cases. The condition ranges from mild to severe, and feeling better can start with a screening.

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Under the ACA's insurance-coverage rules, adults with high blood pressure can get a free preventive screening for Type 2 diabetes, which has no cure but can be actively managed when detected. If left untreated, the disease can lead to blindness, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and heart disease.

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Healthy eating can prevent a range of illnesses and conditions, including obesity, which can be a precursor to a variety of potentially deadly ailments, such as heart disease. Counseling can help adults prevent costly illnesses by educating them about healthy eating habits, food science, and the effects sugar and fat can have on their health. While diet counseling can cost hundreds of dollars, insurers are required to cover it with no out-of-pocket costs to patients.

Related: 10 Surprising Symptoms of Health Problems That Could Cost Thousands

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Individuals between the ages of 15 and 65, as well as high-risk patients in other age groups, can receive a free HIV screening under the insurance rules of the ACA. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is treatable and manageable, although there is no cure.

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Under the ACA, adults on most private insurance plans can receive free preventive vaccines for such illnesses as hepatitis A and B; herpes zoster; HPV; flu; measles, mumps, and rubella; and tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. The cost of some vaccines can top $100.

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Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent a wide range of costly and potentially deadly illnesses. Most insured adults can receive free obesity screening and counseling under the ACA and get the knowledge and lifestyle planning to achieve a satisfactory weight and body mass.

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Under the ACA, insured adults at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases and infections can receive free counseling designed to help avoid such diseases. Counseling might focus on mitigating risk through behavioral analysis or education about protection.

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Insured adults in high-risk categories can receive free syphilis screening under the provisions of the ACA. If left untreated, syphilis can be deadly. It can also result in a broad range of serious complications, especially for pregnant women. The screening can otherwise cost $50 to $100.

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The ACA requires that insurers cover numerous preventive services specifically for women without charging a copayment or coinsurance. The services include contraception; breast and cervical cancer screenings; HPV testing; STD and HIV testing; urinary tract infection screening; and tests for osteoporosis. Women in most health plans also have several counseling and educational services available for free, including breastfeeding support, STD counseling, and well-woman visits for women under 65.

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The ACA also require free coverage for a selection of services specifically for children. These include autism screening; developmental and depression screening; oral health risk assessment; lead screening; immunizations; behavioral assessments; tuberculin testing; PKU screening for newborns; blood pressure screening; and body mass index measurements.

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