Obamacare's Contraception Coverage Invites Confusion

Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 01:57 PM

By Melanie Batley

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As part of Obamacare, employer-sponsored health plans must offer women contraception for free, but confusion is rampant about the variety of free choices the plans will offer, while some employers argue they shouldn't have to pay for it at all.

According to Politico, the government has promoted the idea that all contraception currently on the market will be free.

In an interview last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "The Institute of Medicine recommended a whole array of preventative care for woman, including the range of contraceptive coverage authorized by the FDA. That will be available to women free of charge with their health insurance because we know that's good for women."

The law, however, only requires insurance companies to offer at least one option of free contraception in each of the five major contraceptive categories — not to provide every kind of FDA-approved contraception.

Some are concerned that insurers will attempt to provide the minimum number of free options available. Insurers could also decide to charge a co-pay for certain brands if they are outside the specific products they offer for free. And a woman may not know whether her prescription will be free until she finds out from her pharmacy.

Meanwhile, courts are seeing complaints not only from religious organizations which are seeking exemptions based on their opposition to birth control, but also from individual employers which are religious and are suing on the grounds that the requirement to provide a plan with free contraception violates their beliefs, according to Politico.

"From anecdotal evidence, there are real, clear problems," Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate with the Guttmacher Institute, told Politico.

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