Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 08/01/2011

Birth control now covered: Goodbye, co-pays. Hello, preventive care.


(CBS NEWS)
If you’ve ever had to endure fluctuating birth control prices, the hunt for the generic or the hassle of the monthly refill, take heart: The Department of Health and Human services is now recommending that birth control be covered by insurance plans under preventive care.

This news is a historic development in the debate over women’s health care. The new guidelines take effect today, just over a month after a committee of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommended that prescription birth control, breast-pump rentals, counseling for domestic violence and annual wellness exams and HIV tests be covered by virtually all insurance plans.

Plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 will cover birth control and other preventative services, including voluntary sterilization, and the new requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases.

It’s no secret that the debate over contraceptives — from education about them to access to them — has a long history, but it’s not as divisive as some might think: 28 states already require birth control to be covered by insurance.

Last week, The Post hosted National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine committee member Linda Rosenstock for a live chat. Here’s what she had to say when it came to the recommendation her team made for insurance companies covering birth control as a pre-existing condition:

What pre-existing condition does birth control “cure”?

It is important to understand that our committee looked at the evidence for what services work to improve women’s health. Unintended pregnancy accounts for about half of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year and these pregnancies can cause health problems for both the mother and the newborn. There is compelling evidence that contraception counseling and methods are very effective ways to avoid unintended pregnancies and to allow women to optimally space their pregnancies.

What do you think about the new guidelines?

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