If you have a health plan, like the ones available through Covered California, there are free services available to help you stay well.
Health care services don’t need to cost an arm and a leg — sometimes they cost nothing at all. When you purchase a plan through Covered California, the free service that connects California residents to brand-name health insurance, you are automatically entitled to receive preventive care benefits at no additional cost. Remember that diagnosing illnesses early, or preventing them altogether, is better (and cheaper) for you in the long run.
All members are eligible for a range of regular vaccinations and annual wellness exams, which include screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, many sexually transmitted infections and — for those over age 50 — colorectal cancer. These free services help you stay healthy and get the treatment you need for serious issues as soon as possible.
However, if you raise any health concerns during your free preventive care appointment, it may turn into a traditional visit. That means, you may have to pay a copay for the visit. You may also have to pay for any tests or follow-up visits related to that medical concern.
Certain risk factors lead to additional preventive care benefits as you need them, such as Type 2 diabetes screenings for those with high blood pressure. Higher-risk adults age 40 and older are eligible for free generic statin prescriptions to help lower cholesterol. Screenings and counseling sessions are available for obesity, as well as diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease. Alcohol misuse screening and counseling are also covered.
Women’s Health Benefits
Women have access to a few additional benefits, including free mammograms for women over 40 and cervical cancer screenings. Many contraceptive methods are covered with a prescription, including barrier methods, hormonal birth control and intrauterine devices (IUDs). Nursing mothers are eligible for breastfeeding support and equipment, such as one retail-grade breast pump per pregnancy (along with necessary supplies, like a set of bottles).
Coverage for Children
Children are eligible for free dental coverage through a parent’s health insurance, including services such as X-rays, exams, cleanings and sealants. Kids also receive free common pediatric vaccinations and vision tests, and newborns receive hearing screenings. Over and above the many free benefits offered to adults, toddlers between 18 and 24 months qualify for free autism screening, children up to three years old qualify for developmental screenings, and kids up to age 17 qualify for behavioral assessments.
Aside from the free benefits, health insurance protects you and your family from financial risk. Plus, as of 2020, Californians are required by state law to have health insurance or face a significant penalty come tax time, unless they qualify for an exemption. Stay covered to safeguard your health and your finances — and make sure to take advantage of all of the benefits your plan provides.
Learn more about what preventive care is covered for free here.