Ruling leaves birth control benefit in place for millions of women but gives some employers the new right to deny coverage
(New Haven, CT) — Planned Parenthood of Southern New England condemned today’s ruling by the Supreme Court that some for-profit private corporations, such as the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, can deny coverage of birth control to their employees, for no reason other than the personal religious beliefs of the corporation’s owners.
“Today, the Supreme Court ruled against American women and families, giving some employers the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage,” stated Judy Tabar President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly-wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control.
“This ruling does not strike down the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit. Today, more than 30 million women are eligible for birth control with no co-pay thanks to this benefit, and the vast majority of them will not be affected by this ruling. However, for those who are affected, this ruling will have real consequences.
“It is unbelievable that in 2014, we are still fighting about whether women should have access to birth control. To the majority of Americans, birth control is not a controversial issue. Birth control is basic health care – and it is only a ‘social issue’ if you have never had to pay for it.”
After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the birth control benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women — rightly categorizing birth control as part of women’s basic preventive care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 30 million women nationally are already eligible for this benefit. When the law is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally will have access to no-copay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
Thanks to the birth control benefit, women already have saved $483 million in the last year alone. Studies also show that women who receive birth control with no co-pay or at a reduced cost are able to avoid more than two million unplanned pregnancies each year, which also reduces the need for abortion. It is not surprising that the public overwhelmingly supports the birth control benefit by a nearly two-to-one margin.
Birth control is tremendously important to women for varied reasons, including the need to control certain medical conditions and to plan our families. Under the birth control benefit, women have access to this important preventive care at no cost.
- The wide availability of birth control has been an enormous benefit for countless women and their families — enabling them to support themselves financially, complete their education, and plan their families and have children when they are ready.
- Virtually all (99 percent) American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some time.
- A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. This is not surprising considering copays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month — up to $600 per year.
- Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance. For the first time, under the birth control benefit, IUDs are now fully covered by insurance companies without additional out-of-pocket expense.
- For many women, birth control is used for a host of health care reasons. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of birth control pill users cite health benefits as a contributing factor for using the birth control pill, including treating endometriosis, menstrual pain, and menstrual regulation.
“We hope most businesses will do the right thing and let women make their own health care decisions,” stated Tabar.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) is one of the region’s largest providers of family planning and reproductive health care services. Since 1923, PPSNE has evolved into an organization with 18 health centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, delivering care to over 70,000 patients annually, and 90 percent of the services provided are preventive.