Maryland takes birth control coverage to the next level

Come 2018, Maryland plans to be pretty much the best place ever for insured people who need contraception.

UPDATE: President Biden has opened a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act health insurance plans for 2021. You can now enroll in one of these plans until August 15, 2021, at healthcare.gov. 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.

Looks like awesome laws that make birth control more accessible aren’t just a West Coast thing. A new law signed by the governor of Maryland is taking the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a Obamacare) to the next level.

Here’s what should be covered by insurance according to Maryland state law, starting in 2018:

  • All FDA-approved prescription birth control methods without copay. (That includes brand names if your provider says they’re medically necessary—your provider might just need to fill out an insurance form.)

  • Over-the-counter emergency contraception (EC). The ACA is clear about coverage of prescription birth control, but what about over-the-counter methods like EC? The Maryland law will require insurers to cover EC, even without a prescription. Note that insurers have some freedom to decide which brands are fully covered, so you might pay $0 out of pocket or be charged a copay depending on the brand of EC—but the coverage should be the same with or without a prescription. (Also note that plans may be able to limit the frequency of coverage of these drugs.)

  • IUDs and the implant without “prior authorization.” (Prior authorization is a practice insurers sometimes use that can seriously slow down the process of accessing a service or medication.)

  • A six-month supply of any pill, patch, or ring, with a few caveats: You may have to wait up to two months to use this benefit in certain circumstances, and if there is less than 6-months left in your insurance plan year, your plan may not be required to provide a full 6-month supply.

  • Vasectomies (sterilization for males) without copays or deductibles.

The least awesome thing about this is that the law won’t go into effect until January 2018—but good things are worth waiting for (if we must).

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