Starting next year, thanks to a new set of standards issued by the Obama Administration as part of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance providers will be required to cover all government-approved contraceptives without co-pay or other charges. The standards come after the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) directed the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a study on women’s preventative health care. IOM found that birth control was almost universal and now almost all women with health insurance will have access to free birth control. The Obama Administration is pushing these new standards as a way to keep women healthy, keep health care costs down and to help prevent nearly 3 million unintended pregnancies — nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Instead of us spouting off about how great it is that the government is taking women’s preventative health seriously, let’s hear what you have to say and take our poll below.
“These historic guidelines are based on science and existing (medical) literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Preventing unintended pregnancies helps keep our population manageable and ensures that families are ready to be parents before they pop out a kid. The new standards will help control the rates of teen mothers and abortions. The new regulations will also require health insurance companies to provide HIV — the virus that leads to AIDS — screening, DNA testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV), screening for gestational diabetes in pregnant women, annual preventative care visits for women as well as prenatal care and preconception care to make sure women are healthy before they become pregnant.
The IOM’s report stated that nearly 40% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion, and by providing contraceptives free of cost to women with health insurance they could help drastically lower that number. As part of the law, health care providers with religious affiliations are allowed to exempt themselves if these standards are against their organization’s beliefs.
Secretary Sebelius drove home the sensibility behind these new standards in a press conference about the issue. “Since birth control is the most common drug prescribed to women ages 18-44, insurance plans should cover it,” she said. “Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots, or any of the other basic preventive services that millions of other Americans count on every day.”