Created in 1984, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.
Task Force recommendations are based on a rigorous review of existing peer-reviewed evidence. Each recommendation is assigned a letter grade (an A, B, C, or D grade or an I statement) based on the strength of the evidence and the balance of benefits and harms of a preventive service. The Task Force does not consider the costs of a preventive service when determining a recommendation grade.
A key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the requirement that private insurance plans cover recommended preventive services without any patient cost-sharing Research has shown that evidence-based preventive services can save lives and improve health by identifying illnesses earlier, managing them more effectively, and treating them before they develop into more complicated, debilitating conditions, and that some services are also cost-effective. Insurers must cover evidence-based services for adults and children that have a rating of “A” or “B which indicates the panel finds there is high certainty the services have a substantial or moderate net benefit.
Health plans must also provide coverage without cost-sharing for immunizations that are recommended and determined to be for routine use by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a federal committee comprised of immunization experts that is convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These guidelines require coverage for adults and children and include immunizations such as influenza, meningitis, tetanus, HPV, hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella.