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Insurance Carriers to Cover Birth Control with No Copays

As recently as the 1990s, many health insurance plans didn't even cover birth control. Protests, court cases, and new state laws led to dramatic changes. Today, almost all plans cover prescription contraceptives — with varying co-pays. Medicaid, the health care program for low-income people, also covers contraceptives. Undoubtedly you heard via news sources, but in case you haven’t, it was reported yesterday that health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women with no co-pays next year.

According to Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the decision is a part of the Affordable Care Act's effort to stop problems before they start. "These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need," she said in a news release.

This new requirement is part of a broad expansion of coverage for women’s preventive care under healthcare reform law. The new rule proposed on Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will take effect August 1, 2012. It will require that insurers provide contraceptive services, breast-feeding support and supplies, domestic violence screening and counseling, regular “well woman” visits, counseling about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, screening for gestational diabetes, human papillomavirus (HPV) and several other preventive services without charging women any co-payments, co-insurance or a deductible.

The full list of preventive services is on the HHS’ website.

Copayments are the amount people pay upfront when they fill a prescription or go to an appointment with a medical provider.