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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