Doctor visits, screenings you shouldn't have to pay for

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - If you have health insurance, there are dozens of screenings and tests that should not cost you a dime out of pocket.

When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, insurance companies became obligated to cover the full cost of dozens of preventative health screenings and tests. The idea is to make sure we're not putting off important check-ups, so we can stay healthy. 

Some of the screenings covered in full by insurance plans: 

 -  Mammograms to test for breast cancer are covered every 1 or 2 years for women over 40. 
 -  Pap smears to test for cervical cancer every three years for women between 21 and 65 will not cost you anything. 
 -  Type 2 diabetes screening for men and women 40 to 70 years old who are overweight
 -  Contraceptives for women when prescribed by a doctor  
 -  Breast pumps for new mothers
 -  Most annual exams and check-ups 
 -  All of the treatments covered under the ACA can be found on the website.

"The doctor came in. He did the normal things. And then he said, 'OK, we're gonna draw blood and then I need you to come back in 2 weeks to go over the results,'" said Tim Cifelli-Volmer told Davis in 2018.

His annual check-up, which was not supposed to cost him anything out of pocket, cost him $225 when his doctor ordered a blood test that his insurance doesn't cover until he hits 45. Then his doctor made him schedule a follow-up appointment to get those results. When he showed up, he was told he had to pay a co-pay for the visit. 

"I paid $100 for the doctor to tell me in three minutes, 'Everything's fine,' and that's it," Cifelli-Volmer explained.

You can always ask your doctor to post your results online through a patient portal or to just call you if there is something wrong that they need to discuss in person. 

If your doctor recommends blood work, he or she is a medical professional, you may want to take their advice. They usually send you somewhere else for labs or blood work. Before you go, just call your insurance company and ask if that will be covered. If it's not, you can choose to go to a lab that offers the lab work at a lower price. Coming up tomorrow morning, we'll show you how to find those labs and get a discount.

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