The COVID-19 vaccine is free to all Americans thanks to one long-contested and embattled federal law – namely, the Affordable Care Act.

A number of preventive health care services are free because of a specific provision of the Affordable Care Act, Section 2713. By reducing financial barriers to preventive services like cancer screenings and well-child visits, it sought to encourage patients to utilize these services to identify and treat illnesses before they develop into more severe and costly conditions.

A lawsuit pending at a Texas district court, however, may put this provision in jeopardy. While the ACA has faced many legal challenges since its conception, the Kelley v. Becerra trial could end up hurting patients both in their wallets and access to care.

Boston University public health and economics researchers Paul Schafer and Alex Hoagland examined where the preventive care provision of the ACA succeeded and failed in reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients. They explain what patients stand to lose should this provision be struck down.

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Vivian Lam

Health and Biomedicine Editor

A provision of the Affordable Care Act makes it easier for patients to receive preventive care. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Digital Vision via Getty Images

The next attack on the Affordable Care Act may cost you free preventive health care

Paul Shafer, Boston University; Alex Hoagland, Boston University

The Affordable Care Act has allowed many preventive health services, including cancer screenings and vaccines, to be free of charge. But legal challenges may lead to costly repercussions for patients.

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