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Planned Parenthood Hails Institute of Medicine Recommendation on Coverage of Prescription Birth Control Without Co-Pays
Proposed Federal Rule Could Help Millions of Women Avoid Unintended Pregnancy
Planned Parenthood 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.
“Millions of women, especially young women, struggle every day to afford prescription birth control,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “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 prescription birth control 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 Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “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.
To ensure that women’s voices were part of this national conversation, Planned Parenthood launched Birth Control Matters, an awareness campaign that has helped demonstrate widespread support for covering birth control without co-pays.
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.