Birth Control for Everyone! My Best Day of 2015
May 11, 2015 might not stand out in your mind, but it was one of the best days of the year for me. Right around lunchtime, the Obama Administration announced that it was releasing new guidance on the health care law’s birth control benefit to make sure that women get the coverage they deserve.
I have been working on this issue for so long and on so many projects (our preventive services toolkit, our CoverHer hotline, and most recently our report “State of Birth Control Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act.”) It almost didn’t feel real that one of the things that I had been advocating for, guidance to make it clear what insurance companies should be doing, was happening.
Even though the health care law requires all FDA-approved birth control methods to be covered without out-of-pocket costs, many plans weren’t covering all 18 methods. Women have been contacting the Law Center over the past three years with stories that their plans were not covering their IUD, Nuvaring, or brand name pill. Women were not able to get the health care that was best for them.
I knew when that guidance came out that it would make a real difference in women’s lives. The guidance requires all health plans that have to comply with the ACA to cover at least one birth control in each of the 18 methods included on the FDA’s Birth Control Guide. The guidance was clear that plans have to make sure women get the specific birth control recommended by their health care provider. These details meant that the women who contacted the Law Center for the last several years should now get coverage without out-of-pocket costs of their birth control. And, ultimately, I knew that this coverage would mean many women wouldn’t be forced to choose between birth control and other necessities, could continue their education, and could participate in the workforce side-by-side with men.
Of course, we know quite well that we can’t rest on our laurels, and the Law Center will continue to monitor what plans are doing. For many women, the new guidance will kick in for their health insurance on Jan. 1, 2016, and we want to make sure plans are complying as they should. If you are still paying out-of-pocket for your birth control and not sure why, check out our CoverHer hotline resources and contact our hotline at [email protected] or 1-866-745-5487.