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Making it Plain English: NWLC Supports Maryland’s Steps to Require Insurers to Publish Birth Control Coverage Information

We applaud Maryland for taking steps to ensure that women are able to take full advantage of the birth control benefit by actually knowing what their plans cover! The National Women’s Law Center strongly supports SB 0744 and HB 0780, which would require health insurance companies in Maryland to make information about birth control coverage available to individuals enrolled in the plan and those who are thinking about enrolling. Shockingly, it’s often easier to find a needle in a hay stack than getting a concrete answer about your contraceptive coverage from insurance companies. Thankfully, Maryland is leading the pack by requiring health insurance companies to publish contraceptive coverage information places that women can actually find it…starting with the internet!

Now, you’re probably wondering….Why does this even need to be a requirement? Through our CoverHer hotline, we regularly hear from frustrated women who struggle to find accurate information about their contraceptive coverage.  Maryland’s bill would allow women to spend more time taking advantage of the birth control benefit and less time on the phone with their insurer’s customer service department. Below are a few prime reasons why this bill rocks!

1. Avoid learning about your coverage the hard way, by being forced to pay out of pocket!

Image description: woman shaking head with text that says "what money?"

When choosing a birth control method, it’s important for individuals to be aware of the specific products actually covered under their plan. Insurance companies are required to cover at least one form of birth control in each of the methods listed on the FDA birth control guide without deductibles or copays, but that doesn’t mean every form within a method category is covered without out-of-pocket costs.  This is extremely important for women picking their future IUDs, since IUDs can cost hundreds of dollars without insurance coverage.  Women can avoid expensive doctor bills by knowing ahead of time if their plan imposes cost sharing on one particular IUD. With the help of SB 0744/HB0780, individuals will have all the relevant information to make the best choice among different products.

2. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Image description: Woman pointing with text that says "that ain't right and she ain't right"

It sometimes is a daunting task for women to find the best birth control method that works for them. When searching for a new health insurance plan, it’s important for individuals to know up front if their preferred birth control method will be covered or if not, and how to use the waiver process  to get coverage of their particular product without out-of-pocket costs. Under SB 0744/HB0780, women can make informed decisions and choose a plan that will give them continued coverage instead of being forced to pay out of pocket, find a new method, or jump through hoops to get coverage.

3. Putting an end to the customer service run around!

Image description: Woman shaking head saying "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

We have heard repeatedly from women who spent countless hours calling their health insurance’s customer service line hoping to receive clear and consistent information about their coverage, but instead often hear a different answer every time they call. Thanks to SB 0744/HB0780, health insurance companies would have contraceptive coverage information documents on hand that accurately detail what brands, methods, and devices  are covered under their plans.  Increasing contraceptive coverage transparency will hold insurance companies accountable in providing accurate information and enable women to take full advantage of their birth control benefits.

We are rooting for Maryland to pass SB 0744/HB0780 and support their progressive steps towards making birth control more accessible by removing barriers that hinder women every day!