Affordable birth control and health care reform

We all know there’s room for improvement. Here’s an opportunity to create real change.

UPDATE: President Biden has opened the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act health insurance plans for 2022. You can now enroll in one of these plans until January 15, 2022, at Some states have their own open enrollment periods and websites for signing up. Check to see if your state does. We also have more information about how to get insurance and learn what kinds of plans to watch out for.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has officially defined birth control as a preventive service that must be covered by all insurance plans without copays or deductibles under health reform. That means by next August, if you have health insurance and a prescription from a provider you should be able to get any FDA-approved method of birth control for free. Nice, right? You can read the details about all of the women’s preventive services here.

Here in the U.S. there are a number of ways to get affordable birth control even if you don’t have health insurance, but it’s not necessarily easy. And for those of us who do have insurance, it’s not always covered in a way that makes all methods available at a reasonable price.

Breaking news: the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that birth control should be covered by insurance without copays or deductibles.

This is huge because the IOM is suggesting this as part of the Affordable Care Act. If birth control is classified as a “preventive service” under the Affordable Care Act, then it must be fully covered by all insurance plans. That would mean no-cost access to all FDA approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for insured women with reproductive capacity.

Imagine never having to choose birth control based on what’s cheapest under your insurance plan.

Bedsider is all about options, so it’s especially exciting to see that all FDA-approved methods are included in the IOM’s recommendation. This would make the most effective methods—the IUD, the implant, and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)—much more affordable. That’s great news considering that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has officially endorsed IUDs and implants for pretty much anyone of reproductive age.

If you believe everyone should be able to choose the birth control method that’s right for them without worrying about monthly copays or up-front costs, please sign the National Women’s Law Center petition to Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, voicing your support for birth control as preventive care.

Timing is critical, so we urge you to take action today. Together we can improve health care and birth control.

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