Zika risk is a reminder of the importance of access to health care

Zika mosquito graphicConcerns about the Zika virus are spreading rapidly around the world. Fortunately, here in Maryland, there have been no local mosquito-borne transmissions of the Zika virus. But more than 80 Marylanders have been confirmed to have Zika from travel to affected areas. It’s a reminder of the importance of access to health care.   

Preventive care Is free

Remember that your health insurance plan covers in-network preventive care such as screenings, check-ups, vaccinations and patient counseling at no extra cost to you. All private health plans also must offer essential health benefits. These covered benefits include doctor visits, hospitalization, emergency care, prescriptions, maternity and pediatric care.

Take advantage of your free preventive care and talk to your doctor about Zika. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Zika evaluations for pregnant women with or without symptoms and certain other individuals. Your health care provider will be able to diagnose Zika based on your travel history, symptoms and test results. If you’re planning to travel to an affected area, it is important you talk to your provider about protecting yourself and others from getting Zika.

Don’t risk going uninsured

Open enrollment through MarylandHealthConnection.gov starts Nov. 1 for coverage effective on Jan. 1. Having health coverage protects you from unexpected medical expenses and guarantees free preventive care. It also means avoiding the federal tax penalty that starts at $700 for not having coverage.

You can enroll in or change health insurance plans at any time of the year if you experience a major life event or a special circumstance called a qualifying life event.” Enrollment in Medicaid is year-round.

5 things you need to know about Zika

  1. Zika is spread through mosquito bites, during sex, or from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
  2. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects including microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
  3. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
  4. The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites or sexual transmission from an infected person.
  5. Zika symptoms include fever, rash, joint or muscle pain, headache and conjunctivitis.

Learn more about the Zika virus at CDC.gov

How Zika Spreads CDC
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention