The Affordable Care Act allowed the President to create a panel of doctors and scientists who would decide, in large part, what conditions are covered. This makes sense since medical technology, as well as the diseases we treat, are always changing.
Now that panel has decided that HIV testing must be covered under the ACA.
The experts on the U.S. Preventative Task Force, a government-backed panel of scientists and medical professionals, are now recommending that every American between the ages of 15 and 65be tested for HIV. Since the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover the preventative services that are recommended by the task force, regular HIV testing will now be covered under Obamacare as a routine part of a check-up.
Dr. Carlos Del Rio, an expert in AIDS research in Atlanta, told ABC News that the task force’s announcement is “very exciting” because it will help ensure that her patients are routinely screened for HIV, just as they are already tested for their blood pressure or cholesterol levels:
“People are terrible at knowing their own risk,” said Del Rio, adding that people may be unaware of the HIV status of their sexual partners. “And doctors are terrible at asking them about risk. It can be difficult to discuss sex and drugs with our patients.”
The task force recommendations are used by Medicare and other insurance companies to determine what laboratory tests should be covered. Other important task force recommendations included screening for breast and colon cancer, as well as high cholesterol.
“I don’t have to ask my patients if they eat hamburgers before ordering a cholesterol test,” said Del Rio. “Now I can do a routine HIV test when patients come to clinic.”
People with HIV need to know so we/they can do our best to halt the spread. Not only that, catching it early can reduce the strain on the federal government, as many people who are treated for AIDS wind up with unpaid bills (not having insurance doesn’t help). This contributes to the $49 billion in unpaid medical bills annually for which, for hospitals that do not have not-for-profit status, then get written off every year (i.e., the taxpayers get that responsibility). Even for the not-for-profit hospitals, this causes increased rates.
Preventative healthcare is good for a society, both financially and for the well-being of its citizens. I’m really happy to see this decision.