Government Reminds Insurance Companies, “Hey, You Have to Cover Birth Control!”

Some naughty insurance companies have not been covering women's preventative healthcare like they're supposed to.

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One part of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, we welcomed with open arms was the requirement that insurance company cover preventative healthcare, including birth control for women. But some naughty insurers are actually skimping on this requirement, so the Obama administration is cracking down. The administration put out a reminder to insurance companies that they must cover all forms of contraception without imposing any charges on the patient.

Here’s the passage in the U.S. Department of Labor’s FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation, published Monday:

“Plans and issuers must cover without cost sharing at least one form of contraception in each of the methods (currently 18) that the FDA has identified for women in its current Birth Control Guide …This coverage must also include the clinical services, including patient education and counseling, needed for provision of the contraceptive method.”

The government also reminded insurers that they have to cover screenings, genetic testing (for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes) and genetic counseling for women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

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Oh, and none more important reminder to insurance companies? You must provide preventive care to transgender people, and cannot deny coverage for a sex-specific preventive service based on a person’s gender identity.

Why is this reminder necessary? The New York Times reports that this warning from the White House comes after the National Women’s Law Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation both issued reports finding that insurers had often ignored the federal requirement to cover contraception (which, admittedly, has been controversial to some conservatives). Specifically, some insurers were lumping together a few different methods and only covering one or two in that category — for example, of the “hormonal” methods, they would say they only covered pills and not methods like the patch or ring.

Hopefully,  this stern reminder from the government on the laws will make kick insurance companies into gear so contraception is covered how the Affordable Care Act intended it to be.

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