Many women are still surprised by the high cost of birth control. Isn’t this supposed to be free?
Well yes…and no, it turns out. The Affordable Care Act says healthcare plans must cover contraception prescribed by a woman’s doctor without a copayment or coinsurance (they’re considered preventative services). That means most private plans must cover the 18 methods of contraception approved by the FDA (including hormonal methods like birth control pills and vaginal rings, barrier methods like diaphragms, implanted devices, emergency contraception, and sterilization) as well as counseling appointments related to birth control.
It turn out many insurance carriers are interpreting the law in their own way and denying coverage for these services.
Two big gaps: coverage of the hormonal ring or patch, as well as certain IUDs. “Insurers interpreted the guidance to mean if they covered a hormonal combination that was available in an oral contraceptive, they didn’t have to cover the patch or ring because they were the same hormone”. Or, if they covered a hormonal IUD, they wouldn’t have to cover a non-hormonal version.
Should women be provided a wide varity of both hormonal and non-hormonal options.
In light of these issues, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a set of Frequently Asked Questions intended to close potential gaps in coverage. The move doesn’t change the policy—just clarifies it—but it should help more women get covered.
This doesn’t mean your Rx will suddenly be free tomorrow. Insurance company may phase in the guidelines likely beginning in 2016.