New standards require health insurance companies to cover government-approved contraception for women.
Writes the New York Times:
The standards, which also guarantee free coverage of other preventive services for women, follow recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences and grew out of the new health care law.
Supporters of the new requirement said it would go a long way toward removing cost as a barrier to birth control, a longtime goal of advocates for women’s rights and experts on women’s health. But the requirement does not immediately help women who have no health insurance.
The requirements apply to insurance in years starting on or after Aug. 1, 2012. They take effect in January 2013 for insurance plans that operate on the basis of a calendar year.
Lawmakers hope to see a national boost in preventative services like mammograms, colonoscopies and blood pressure checks. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Women’s Health, Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than any other race and are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications.
Co-payments, deductibles and other preventive services recommended by a medical doctor are generally banned, the article adds. Insurers can use “reasonable medical management techniques” to control costs, such as charging a co-payment for brand-name drugs if a lower-cost generic version is available and was proven as effective.
The new standards cover the full range of contraceptive methods for women that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, such as the emergency contraceptives known as ella and Plan B. In addition, screenings to detect domestic violence and screenings for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are also included.
(Photo: Kelsey Snell/Landov)