Birth Control To Be Covered by Insurance Companies

Image courtesy of Reason.com

Well, Serena, you asked for it – and you got it! The Obama administration issued new standards that will require insurance companies to consider birth control as preventive care, and requires companies to cover birth control without a co-pay. The new rules go into effect on August 1, 2012 (or the following January, for plans that operate on the calendar year).

Some more good news: all forms of contraception that have been approved by the FDA are covered, along with emergency contraceptives like Plan B and ella. Sterilization procedures are also covered, as well as a host of other preventive services like screening for HIV, HPV testing, and equipment and counseling to promote breast feeding.

It’s important to note that this does not mean birth control is now “free.” Women will still have to pay for their health insurance – but beginning in 2012, they won’t also have to come up with a co-pay for these services.

Still, this is very good news – even if, as Irin at Jezebel pointed out, “the very fact that birth control is politicized or “controversial” is a travesty.” I couldn’t agree more; after all, the decision to use birth control, and which method to use, is a private choice that should only be made by the person who’s actually using the medication. Not to mention that it’s more than a bit hypocritical for all those anti-choicers out there to be foaming at the mouth about increasing access to birth control – how else do they think unwanted pregnancies will be prevented? Oh, right, they don’t think that women should be having sex in the first place.

So yes, there are plenty of people out there like Bill “many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex“ O’Reilly to remind us of  how many misconceptions and stereotypes still exist about sex, women, and birth control. Which makes it that much more impressive that the Obama administration has made such a common-sense decision, hopefully bringing us that much closer to a society where women and men have full autonomy over their bodies and their health care choices.

No Co-Pay Birth Control is Overdue

As Sarah noted last week, the Institute of Medicine released a report that recommends, among other things, that birth control be considered preventative medicine – and rightly so. As the Atlantic Wire points out, “Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and about 40 percent of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion.”  Increased birth control access can prevent unintended pregnancies, and decrease the need for abortion. As a result, the IOM is advocating that birth control be available at no cost to women as a part of the implementation of the health care reform package.

No co-pay birth control is seriously overdue, ya’ll. NPR reports that, “98 percent of sexually active women will use contraception at some point during their reproductive years, and that cost concerns are frequently cited as a reason for inconsistent use or use of a less then optimal method.” That is because women currently pay between $15 and $50 a month in co-pays for birth control pills — which equals $180 to $600 a year! Consequently, more than one-third of all women have struggled to pay for prescription birth control at some point in their lives.

Just to clarify, the IOM recommendations will not be the equivalent of “free” birth control – the IOM recommendations simply state that birth control should be available without a co-pay price. Women will still have to pay their insurance premiums. However, as an article in Colorlines states, “the women who plunk down about $5 to $50 a month for, say, the Pill are already paying their insurance premiums. This would just lighten their financial load.” [Read more...]