US Mandates Insurance Coverage for Birth Control

Posted August 1st, 2011 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued rules requiring new health insurance plans to fully cover preventative care for women, including birth control.

Those new rules have sparked controversy with groups opposed to all birth control, such as the Roman Catholic Church, and those who approve of only some types of birth control.

The guidelines require insurance companies to have new policies that cover an annual wellness visit, prenatal and postnatal care, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, and all U.S.-approved forms of birth control. Covered methods include contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices and the controversial “morning-after pill,” which is meant to stop pregnancy after unprotected sex.

The rules specify that insured patients not be required to make any co-payment on the services. They contain an opt-out provision for birth control coverage to religious institutions that insure their employees.

The guidelines were recommended by an advisory group, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, in an Obama administration-commissioned study that looked at health care issues specific to women. The new regulations are part of the expansion of health care coverage under the reform signed into law last year. They go into effect for new plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012.