Score for Women’s Health

UPDATE:

HHS approves IOM Recommendations

                It was announced today that the Department of Health and Human Services would adopt the recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine regarding women’s health. That means along with well woman visits, STD screening and counseling and domestic violence screening and support, women will be able to get their birth control covered with no co-pay by their insurance plans. Although they did provide an exemption for religious employers as a way to pacify extreme right-wing conservatives, this decision is still a momentous step forward for women’s health. Coverage must be incorporated into all plans starting on or after August 1st 2012. For some women, this may mean waiting until 2013 for full coverage, but that is a solid move in the right direction. For example, if you have a health care plan that renews in April or May your plan would not be required to incorporate it until that month of 2013 since those months come before August 2012.

One of the major accomplishments of the Obama Administration has been to get the Affordable Care Act passed. This will enable millions of uninsured Americans to gain access to basic health care. One aspect of the act is that it will create a list of standard preventive health care that insurance policies must cover with no co-pay. As of now the full list of what will be covered has not been determined, however the Institute of Medicine has been appointed the task of determining what services should be considered preventative and thus covered under the system, though the Department of Health and Human Services does not HAVE to follow their recommendations.

One major movement regarding what should be included on the list and covered under the act is birth control. Women’s rights activists organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice and NOW; are participating in campaigns to raise awareness of the issue and to encourage the inclusion of birth control on the list of recommended preventative services.

NARAL Pro-Choice even has a fun app on their Facebook page that allows you to input your age, your preferred type of birth control and how many kids you would like to eventually have and it uses that information to calculate how much you could save by not having to pay out of pocket for birth control care. In playing around with the app I found the most expensive options were the birth control patch and the vaginal ring, both costing almost $14,000.00 for an 18 year old who wants no children. For a more common method, like the pill it would still save a woman over $10,000.00. That’s enough to buy a car. Or for those of you who are more socially conscientious the example they provide is “Fund a shelter for 50 girls surviving trafficking for a year.”

Including birth control as preventative care seems like a no brainer decision, especially since 3 out of 4 Americans believe insurance plans should fully cover birth control, but that hasn’t stopped extreme conservative groups from opposing its inclusion. They oppose it based on the theory that some forms of birth control, by changing the lining of the uterus and possibly preventing a fertilized egg from implanting, actually act as abortifacients and not just as birth control by preventing fertilization.

The IOM has not officially released its report yet however early reports indicate that full health care coverage for birth control will be recommended. They are expected to give their findings to the Department of Health and Human Services this week and the DHHS will make the final decision. If they follow the recommendations women in the U.S. will have access to affordable birth control, so stay tuned to find out what the final decision is.

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