Health insurance providers may soon be footing the bill for birth control and other preventative service for women.
The Huffington Post reports that a non-partisan panel of medical experts suggested yesterday that the U.S. Department of Health require all insurance companies to offer birth control pills to its female customers for free. That includes the morning-after pill.
The Obama Administration commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to consider which preventative measures should be paid for under the Affordable Care Act. According to Planned Parenthood, birth control pills can cost anywhere between $15 and $50 a month, which is an expense that many women may have difficulty paying for out of their own pocket. By comparison, Plan B (aka The Morning-After Pill) costs $50 per dose.
"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," a rep for Planned Parenthood said in a statement.
While this move could invoke the ire of conservative and religious groups, it could decrease the instances of unwanted and terminated pregnancies.
"Currently, nearly one in three women finds it difficult to pay for birth control, and that’s why the United States has a far higher unintended-pregnancy rate than other industrialized countries," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan told The Huffington Post. "Making family-planning services available at no cost will help millions of women prevent pregnancy and thereby reduce the need for abortion."
But the panel’s recommendations don’t stop there. The IOM recommended that insurance providers cover gestational diabetes screenings and testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV) in women over the age of 30. Ideally, insurers would also provide free counseling for HIV, lactation, sexually transmitted infecitions and contraception, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The IOM wants to see breast-feeding equipment and yearly wellness checkups covered by insurance plans as well.
— Sonya Eskridge