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Policy & Politics

Panel Calling for Free Contraceptive Coverage

July 20, 2011

Health insurers should be required to fully cover, with no co-pays, eight additional prevention services for women under the federal health care law, says a new Institute of Medicine report. The IOM panel, tasked by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to recommend preventive services critical to women's health, focused especially on addressing the gap in reproductive care.

The recommended services include:

  • Human papillomavirus DNA testing for women over age 30
  • STD counseling
  • HIV counseling and screening
  • All contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as counseling for patients wishing to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Obama administration officials said they are likely to accept the advice, which, if acted upon by Aug. 1, would take effect for many plans at the beginning of 2013.

Nearly half of all US pregnancies are unintended, IOM noted, and about 40 percent of these end in abortion. Broader contraceptive uptake would reduce teen and unintended pregnancy as well as abortion, it said. While the IOM panel did not consider cost specifically, "contraception is highly cost-effective," it said.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Family Research Council and other conservative groups denounced the birth control recommendation. Many obstetricians, gynecologists and female Democrats in Congress hailed the proposal.

In creating the list, IOM considered whether a service is supported by high-quality, peer-reviewed studies and systematic reviews, and is identified as a federal priority; and whether it is supported by governmental, professional and reimbursement policies. A service had to affect a broad population; have a large potential impact on health and well-being; and be supported by strong evidence.

For the full list of recommendations, visit

Back to other news for July 2011

Adapted from:
New York Times
07.20.2011; Robert Pear

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
U.S. Health Care Reform

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