If you’re like many people, you probably use your health insurance regularly to cover such basics as annual checkups and trips to your local urgent care. But did you know that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as the ACA or Obamacare, also guarantees a long list of essential benefits? Here are some health benefits you may be overlooking: 

Free vaccines 

Did you know you can get all your standard immunizations free of charge, even if you haven’t yet hit your deductible? Exactly which shots you get will depend on your age, personal history, and doctor’s recommendations. But your health insurance will cover all standard vaccines, such as influenza, MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), tetanus, and COVID-19. You won’t pay a penny if you use an in-network provider. 

No-cost birth control 

Many people don’t know that the ACA covers your choice of birth control. Whether you prefer the pill or an IUD, you can get contraception at no cost as long as an in-network doctor prescribes it. The only exception is if your health insurance is provided by an exempt religious employer, such as a house of worship. In this case, you may need to pay out of pocket. 

If you work for a nonprofit religious organization, such as a religious college or hospital, your birth control will still be covered at no charge to you. But you may have to jump through a few extra hoops, as a third-party administrator may be responsible for making contraceptive coverage payments. Contact your insurance company for details. 

Mental health benefits 

Under the Affordable Care Act, mental health is treated the same as physical health under a doctrine known as parity. This means that insurance companies can’t charge higher copays or coinsurance rates, set different limits on how many visits are covered, or treat mental health care any differently than other medical services. Note that mental health services are not free, except for basic screenings, but you will pay whatever you would pay for additional medical services. And mental health services will count toward your deductible and out-of-pocket maximums. So check your plan details to see your specific mental health benefits and take advantage of them! 

No-charge health screenings 

Preventive care is a critical element of the ACA. From colonoscopies to blood pressure checks to screening for depression, you can get the appropriate health screenings for your age, gender, and personal history at no charge. Talk to your doctor about which screenings are right for you, and relax knowing you won’t pay a penny to get checked out. 

Your health insurance plan may include a wide range of benefits you haven’t taken advantage of. The more benefits you use to their fullest, the more you can take charge of your health. Annual checkups are an excellent first step, but there is likely even more you can do to keep yourself feeling your best. Fortunately, the EHE Health Navigation Center can help. We offer personalized health advice that goes beyond your annual wellness exam, helping you make the most of your health benefits.