Ensuring Young People’s Access to Preventive Services in the Affordable Care Act
Young people need access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health care services. By requiring most health plans to cover preventive services without cost sharing, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) holds the potential to make many critical healthcare services more accessible to young people, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections and HIV, contraceptive care, pregnancy-related care, and HPV immunizations, among other services. Additionally, the ACA has made it possible for many young people to stay on their parents’ plans up to age 26, and those with income under 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible for Medicaid coverage.Since young people ages 15 to 24 are more likely to experience unintended pregnancy and STIs than most other age groups,increased access to these services has the potential to make a real difference in many young people’s lives. In fact, it already has: since the implementation of the ACA, young people are significantly more likely to receive a routine examination including preventive care services.
But at the policy level, a number of challenges exist to successful implementation of the preventive services provisions of the ACA, especially those pertaining to reproductive and sexual health.