January 7, 2013
Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most women with private insurance are now eligible to receive free contraceptives, including birth control pills or the intrauterine device. Although access to free contraceptives and seven other preventive services took effect in August 2012, the ACA-mandated benefits did not kick in until insurance companies updated their plans for 2013. Full coverage applies only to generic contraceptives; women may be responsible for a co-pay if they opt for a brand-name contraceptive.
In addition to contraception, no-cost preventive services for women now include well woman visits, gestational diabetes screening, breastfeeding support, human papillomavirus DNA screening for women 30 or more years old, STD counseling, HIV counseling, and domestic violence counseling. The ACA measure eliminates deductibles and co-insurance payments for all eight services. Women can verify they will receive these benefits by contacting the human resources department of their employers.
The Institute of Medicine Committee on Preventive Services for Women recommended that insurers provide the eight services free of charge. Committee member Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, stated that access to "long-lasting" contraceptives reduces the incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion. The action removes the cost barrier that deterred some women from using these services.