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Planned Parenthood Hails Institute of Medicine Recommendation on Key Women’s Health Services Without Co-Pays

Proposed Federal Rule Could Help Millions of Women Access Birth Control, Cancer Screenings and More

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Monica McCafferty
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Published: 07.19.11| Updated: 07.19.11

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains today hailed the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s recommendation on including prescription birth control as a women’s preventive health service, which would be covered without co-pays by new insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.  If adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the policy could eliminate cost barriers that keep many American women from using birth control consistently. The recommendation also includes other key women’s health services in the list of preventive services, including annual exams, enhanced DNA Pap smears, and counseling and screening for HIV and domestic violence.

“Millions of women, especially young women, struggle to afford annual exams and other preventive health care including prescription birth control,” said Vicki Cowart, PPRM president and CEO.  “Today’s recommendation brings us a step closer to ensuring that all newly insured women under the health care reform law will have access to crucial reproductive health care services without out-of-pocket expenses.  This would be a tremendous stride forward for women’s health in this country.”
A 2010 survey by Hart Research found that more than a third of female voters struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, had used birth control inconsistently.  On average, a woman spends 30 years of her life trying to prevent pregnancy.

“Covering birth control without co-pays is one of the most important steps we can take to prevent unintended pregnancy and keep women and children healthy,” said Amy Dickson, vice president for medical services at PPRM.  “The IOM recommendation confirms that prescription birth control, along with other key health care services, such as annual exams and HIV screening and counseling, are critical preventive services that improve the health of communities across the country.  These services need to be accessible for women.”

Co-pays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month.  Other methods, such as IUDs, often cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance.
In 2010, HHS asked the IOM to consider what services should qualify as a preventive service under the Women’s Health Amendment to the Affordable Care Act. The act authorizes HHS to set national policy on the issue.  The agency’s ruling is expected in August.

According to a recent Thomson Reuters-NPR Health poll, 77 percent of Americans believe that private medical insurance should provide no-cost birth control and 74 percent believe that government-sponsored plans should do the same.
“We applaud the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation on which women’s health services should be included as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act,” said Cowart.

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Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains empowers individuals and families in the communities we serve to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health by providing high quality health services, comprehensive sex education, and strategic advocacy. More than 123,000 women, men, and young adults annually visit our 28 health centers throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Southern Nevada, and Wyoming. Since 1916, we have been the region’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care. For more information about Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, call 1.800.230.PLAN or visit pprm.org for the health center nearest you.

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