No-Cost Birth Control? It’s Possible, Thanks to the Health Care Law

This post comes courtesy of Stephanie Sterling, Director of Government Relations and Senior Advisor, from National Women’s Law Center.

Couples who want to delay having another child because of uncertain economic times need to be covered. College students who decide to go to graduate school before starting families need to be covered. Millions of women in the United States trying to prevent an unintended pregnancy need to be covered.

Help move women’s health forward. Support coverage for prescription birth control without a co-pay.

Women need insurance plans to cover contraception, and — thanks to the new health care law — we are finally within reach of achieving this critical goal. Next month, as part of a process kicked off by the new health care law, an independent panel of experts at the Institute of Medicine will decide whether contraception is a women’s preventive health service that should be covered by all new health insurance plans and provided without co-pays.  

Once the panel of experts makes its decision, the Department of Health and Human Services will have to decide whether to adopt the panel’s recommendations and guarantee access to no-cost contraceptives for women in all new health insurance plans. 

The decision for the experts should be an easy one.  Contraception is critical preventive health care for women.   Planned pregnancies — which for most women require contraception — improve the health of women and their children.  The ability to determine the timing of a pregnancy can prevent a range of pregnancy complications that can endanger a woman’s health, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and placental problems, among others.  Women who wait for some time after delivery before conceiving their next child lower their risk of adverse perinatal outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth and small-for-size gestational age. And a planned pregnancy affords women an opportunity to make behavioral changes that lead to better birth outcomes.

That’s why public health and medical experts — like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which called family planning one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century, and even an expert panel convened more than a decade ago by the Institute of Medicine — agree that contraception is a key part of preventive health care for women.  And it’s also why there is already substantial precedent in federal law to guarantee coverage of contraceptives.

This may be a decision for the experts, but it’s a matter of dollars and cents — and basic fairness — for millions of women.  Contraception is expensive, and the high cost of contraception affects whether women use it consistently and use the most appropriate or effective forms for their circumstances.  We know that contraception improves the health and lives of women and children, but its benefits are only realized if women can afford it.  

That’s why this is such an important moment, and why this is such an important campaign.  

It’s time to move women’s health forward, and for us to say — we’ve got you covered.  Join the effort to make prescription birth control available in new health plans without a co-pay.

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Photo credit: istock

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Sarah M.
Sarah M.4 years ago

We need this so badly!

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago


Cheryl L.
Cheryl L.4 years ago

Lynda H.: ----- Who do you think is paying for all the children born because their parents don't use birth control? Who do you think has been paying HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS to cover pregnancy and childbirth for families making babies .... think about the Duggar family for example. I doubt they are paying cash for each successive child they produce and for Mrs. Duggar's medical care, and that of her last child who needed EXTENSIVE medical care. Isn't it cheaper to pay for birth control methods for people? After all, our insurance pays for VIAGRA for men, doesn't it? And that's not even a life-threatening condition or a medical necessity. So why not birth control?

Lynda H.
Lynda Harrison4 years ago

When are these people going to tell it like it is . . nothing in this world comes for free and the Government has no money . . . someone, somewhere foots the bill . . . guess who . . . the taxpayer!

Suzanne H.
Suzanne H.4 years ago

The beginning, middle and end of so many of our global economic woes are over population! We simply have to voluntarily curb birthrates immediately. In so doing we would have a world where every child is appreciated. Global resources would be extended and our environment will be saved. I have often thought humans have the foresight of lemmings. Lemmings habitually over populate their environment; then commit suicide in mass. Are we smarter than rodents?

Tony C.
Tony C.4 years ago

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to Graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others. Sex Education should be taught at an early age about Contraceptives, Masturbation and the other forms of sex.
Let's face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

Marie W.
Marie W.4 years ago

Take all the money spent on Viagra.. there will be enough.

Heather A.
Heather A.4 years ago

Family planning is an investment that makes sense. First of all, why wouldn't you want your tax dollars going towards something that makes the world a more compassionate, fair place? Secondly, investing public funds in family planning saves the tax payer money in the long run. Because, believe it or not, in a society where women are in charge of their reproduction, there is far less need for social programs and prisons. Never mind the fact that many women rely on birth control to be able to function normally during their periods. I live in Canada, and I have to pay either 2 or 8$ co-pay on my birth control every 4 months. It adds up when you're a student, and I can't imagine the impact of paying for birth control when it's not covered at all.

ana p.
ana p.4 years ago


Manuela C.
Manuela C.4 years ago

In Portugal we have free birth control pills/implants/IUD's/condoms offered in public health centers for years, and also free medical and nurse consults for men and woman from the age of 15 to discuss these issues among others (they're called something like "planned parenthood consults"). And it works, but there is still many people who's misinformed....