Contraception Is a Medical Necessity - and Will Soon Be Covered 100% by Health Insurance!
Under the federal health reform legislation, health insurance plans will be required to offer preventive health services without charging a co-pay or deductible.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines which preventive health services are included in the requirement.HHS, under President Obama's leadership, has ruled that contraception will be included under the new law.Contraception is highly cost-effective, protects women's health, and protects a woman's right to control her body.
Too many women who wish to obtain contraceptive care cannot do so because they cannot afford it.It's not surprising that half of the pregnancies in the United States are unintended.Unintended pregnancy subjects women to unnecessary and avoidable health care procedures and costs, whether the woman chooses to carry a pregnancy to term or to terminate the pregnancy.
In July, a committee of scientists and medical experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences recommended to HHS that contraceptive and counseling methods to prevent unintended pregnancies be considered preventative health care and thus be provided without cost to the insured person.
On August 1, the Obama administration announced that health plans will be required to cover contraceptive drugs and counseling without co-pays or deductibles, starting next year.However, there is a narrow exemption for religious groups having to offer birth control coverage to their employees.
I joined state legislators from across the country writing to HHSSecretary Kathleen Sebelius, urging her to follow the IOMrecommendation and include contraception in the package of preventive health care.While women's rights are being chipped away at state by state, this is a step forward at the Federal level to protect a women's right to important health care and contraception access.
Several years ago, New York enacted legislation I co-sponsored that requires health insurance that includes prescription drugs to cover contraception.The federal decision goes further, to bar co-payments and deductibles.