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      Birth control and wellness visits now free

      One of eight provisions under the Women's Preventative Health Care Amendment went into effect Wednesday, saying insurance companies now have to pay for birth control.

      The amendment is part of the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare.

      Provisions that went into effect other than contraceptives included free wellness visits and testing for sexually transmitted infections.

      "Surveys show that more than half of the women in this country delayed or avoided preventive care because of its cost, and that's simply not right," says Kathleen Sebelius with Health and Human Services.

      The Obama administration estimates about 47 million women will take advantage of free contraception.

      Dr. Ken Thompson an OB/GYN with Conway Medical Group says these new initiatives are "a good step for women in this issue."

      Thompson adds the need for these services to be provided at low or no cost is crucial for preventative care.

      "It's necessary from so many standpoints. We talked about the cancer screenings for a lot of women, that's their only visit to the doctor," said Dr. Thomspon. "That's where we pick up all kinds of health risks, all kinds of problems, at that annual exam."

      Religious institutions and universities get a one-year grace period before they have to offer birth control because of the controversy surrounding the provision.

      Dr. Thompson does have a message for women. "As soon as it's available, get in and get it taken care of. Don't wait and put it off," he said.