What services are considered “preventive care”?

21575265_MOne of the biggest accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act was mandating that preventive care services should be free-of-charge for consumers. There are numerous benefits of free preventive care: for individuals, this includes lower personal healthcare costs and earlier diagnoses for potentially life-threatening diseases; for society, this has led to decreased overcrowding in emergency rooms and improved levels of public health.

Although a law mandating zero-copay preventive care may seem to increase national healthcare spending (the mandate also applied to Medicaid and Medicare programs, after all), it actually does the exact opposite by nipping problems in the bud before they develop into full-blown health crises (e.g., massive flu epidemics are mitigated by free flu vaccines and someone with cancer has a much higher chance of survival if the cancer is detected earlier on).

If you’ve wondered what preventive care services are covered and how much they cost without insurance or ACA $0-copay mandates, continue reading to learn more:


According to the Centers for Disease Control, routine vaccinations and other shots cost anywhere between $25 to $200 or more, on average. However, when you have insurance, immunization shots are considered preventive care, which means you can get the flu vaccine, tetanus shot, HPV vaccine and other shots free-of-charge. Vaccinations are scientifically proven to be beneficial when it comes to preventing outbreaks of serious and highly infectious diseases like the flu, polio, measles and STDs, so it makes sense why these fall under the umbrella of “preventive care.”

For Children

There are many different pediatric services covered by the preventive care mandate, including: autism screenings (18-24 month-olds), behavioral assessments (including mental health screenings from ages 12+), blood pressure screenings, immunization vaccines, vision and hearing screenings, and much more.

Of course, it should be noted that these services are provided free-of-charge to those covered by PPO health insurance when they use in-network providers, so don’t risk having to foot the bill by going out-of-network.

For Women

When it comes to $0-copay preventive services offered to women, there are quite a few services you might not realize are fully covered by insurance. Some of these services include: annual well-woman exams, mammograms, anemia screenings, STD screenings, breastfeeding counseling, and postpartum mental health screenings, to name a few. In many states, contraception is also covered free-of-charge.

In a world without $0-copay preventive services, women could pay a lot more for healthcare, such as $267 for a mammogram or $1,100 for a Mirena IUD.

Screenings for Adults

For all adults, screenings for a variety of cancers is the most common $0-copay benefit, though other covered preventive care services may include: alcohol counseling, blood pressure screenings, and obesity screening and counseling. Even if you think you’ll never need some or any of the services mentioned above, it’s still incredibly useful to have health insurance to guard against potential health risks without having to pay for these otherwise costly services out of pocket.