(Washington, D.C.) The Obama Administration today clarified that insurance companies must cover all FDA-approved birth control methods without a co-pay or deductible, as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The communication, in the form of FAQs issued jointly by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury, lists all the unique birth control methods that insurance companies must cover at no cost to the woman and underscores that all medical services associated with the methods also must be covered with no co-pays.
The FAQs come 12 days after the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) issued two reports exposing insurance company violations of ACA. One report, “State of Birth Control Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act,” found widespread violations of the birth control coverage requirements.
The following is a statement by Gretchen Borchelt, NWLC Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights:
“Insurance companies have been breaking the law and, today, the Obama Administration underscored that it will not tolerate these violations. It is now absolutely clear that all means all—all unique birth control methods for women must be covered. Under the Affordable Care Act, women are no longer supposed to be at the mercy of insurance companies. It is past time for insurers to adhere to the law and stop telling women that their chosen method isn’t covered or that they must pay for it. We welcome the Administration’s guidance and know it will go a long way to improve the health and economic well-being of women and their families.”
Gretchen Borchelt and NWLC legal and policy experts are available for comment. Please contact Melanie Boyer at 202-588-5180 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview.
About the Reports
In “State of Women’s Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act,” NWLC analyzed coverage of women’s health services offered on health insurance Marketplaces by more than 100 insurance companies in 15 states during 2014 and 2015 and found that more than half of the issuers were violating the ACA. The analysis found violations related to maternity care, birth control, breast-feeding support and supplies, genetic testing, well-woman visits, prescription drug coverage, care related to gender transition for transgender individuals, chronic pain treatment, and certain pre-existing conditions. The extent of the violations indicates the problems are likely to be systemic nationwide.
In its second report, “State of Birth Control Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act,” NWLC delved more deeply into coverage of FDA-approved birth control methods and found widespread violations of the ACA’s requirement that all such methods be covered without co-payments or deductibles. NWLC supplemented its review of plan documents with its own correspondence with insurance companies and with stories of real women gathered through its CoverHer hotline, which is dedicated to helping women who are not receiving birth control coverage as required by law.