Obamacare made contraception free. So why do only 42 percent of sexually active women report having their birth control fully covered?
In part, it’s because some women who report using birth control rely on male condoms — which are not covered under the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. The health law requires that new insurance policies cover all FDA-approved contraception prescribed for women without cost sharing, meaning that couples using male condoms still have to pay for them.
That’s a significant number of women, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2013 Women’s Health Survey, released Thursday. Some 63 percent of sexually active women rely on male condoms, and 54 percent rely on one contraceptive method. Compare that with the 48 percent of sexually active women who use oral contraceptives — which include birth-control pills — and the 45 percent who report using two or more contraceptive methods, and it’s evident that at least some women are relying on male condoms as their only method of birth control.
Another reason women are reporting that they don’t have their birth control fully covered is simply because their insurance plan doesn’t have to. According to the survey, 31 percent of sexually active women reported that their insurance covered only part of the costs, which could be because they chose a birth-control method that isn’t covered — such as a brand-name drug — or because they went out of their provider network to get it.
Insurers also don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage without cost sharing for “grandfathered” plans, the term used to describe older policies that don’t (yet) have to meet the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements. One other exemption is for religious employers who object to contraception — and women on those plans are finding themselves footing the full bill.
Meanwhile, some women simply don’t know about the birth-control coverage requirements of the law — and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is working to fix that. Cara James, director of the CMS Office of Minority Health, said it’s drafting an outreach plan to teach the newly insured how to use their coverage, and education about the benefits the law requires is ongoing, especially as the agency gears up for the next open-enrollment period. They’re also working to ensure that doctors explain patients’ options when they go in for preventive care visits.
And millions of Americans still live without health insurance — which means they’ve got to figure out how to pay for birth control on their own.
The result is that even with the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, 18 percent of sexually active women don’t have contraceptive coverage, according to Kaiser’s survey.
While nearly half of sexually active women use at least one form of contraception, Kaiser found, one in five aren’t using birth control at all. By the time Kaiser conducts its next four-year survey, women’s-health experts expect to see the number of women who report having their contraception covered increase.
“I’m holding my biggest smiles for the day when we’re much closer to 100,” said Amy Allina, deputy director of the National Women’s Health Network. “We are certainly aware that cost was and is a barrier to women getting contraceptive care.”
What We're Following See More »
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified on Friday the makes and models of 12 million cars and motorcycles that have been recalled because of defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata. The action includes 4.3 million Chryslers; 4.5 million Hondas; 1.6 million Toyotas; 731,000 Mazdas; 402,000 Nissans; 383,000 Subarus; 38,000 Mitsubishis; and 2,800 Ferraris. ... Analysts have said it could take years for all of the air bags to be replaced. Some have questioned whether Takata can survive the latest blow."
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says 41 Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the fallout of an investigation over the agency's leak of personnel files. The leaker, who has resigned, released records showing that Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz—who was leading an investigation of Secret Service security lapses—had applied for a job at the agency years before. The punishments include reprimands and suspension without pay. "Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," said Johnson.
Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”
"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."
"Congress abandoned the Capitol Thursday for an almost two-week break without addressing how to combat Zika, even as public health officials issue dire warnings about the spread of the mosquito-driven virus with summer approaching. ... Instead of racing to fund efforts to thwart a potential health crisis, lawmakers are treating the Zika debate like regular legislation, approving Thursday the establishment of a House-Senate committee to hammer out differences in their competing bills."