Proposed Federal Rule Could Help Hundreds of Maine Women Avoid Unintended Pregnancy
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England hailed the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s recommendation to include 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 (DHHS), the policy would 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 Steve Trombley, CEO of Planned Parenthood Northern New England (PPNNE), which covers Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. “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 Maine.”
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. Regan Theiler, Medical Director of PPNNE. “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. At PPNNE health centers in Maine, nearly 2/3 of patients are at or near Federal poverty level. The centers provided over $3 million in free services in 2010.
PPNNE is also working to increase coverage for women’s health through MaineCare. Family planning services to women and men on MaineCare are matched at a higher level by the Federal government than other health care services, and are proven to save significant money to the state by preventing unintended pregnancies.
PPNNE has four health centers in Maine: Sanford, Biddeford, Portland, and Topsham. For more information visit: www.ppnne.org.