Big News: No More Co-Pays for Birth Control!

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Wednesday, the “Affordable Access to Preventative Care” portion of The Affordable Care Act went into effect.

It mandates that private health insurance companies cover the full cost of birth control, as well as a handful of other preventative services.

Free birth control? That’s huge.

In the past, women with private heath care might have split the cost of these services with their insurance providers through cost-sharing options like co-pay. But even with co-pay, the average woman could spend up to $18,000 on hormonal birth control alone over the course of her lifetime. The mandate brings big savings and greater access to complete health care for women across the country.

The mandate is also a win for the U.S. government, which funds two-thirds of unanticipated pregnancies nationwide. By offering free contraception, the government will help women avoid these unwanted pregnancies and in turn could see savings of up to $11 billion per year.

How This Change Affects You

The policy change applies to women with private health insurance, excluding women without health insurance and women covered by Medicaid–47 million women across the country will see the changes immediately, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Here’s how this change affects you:

  • If you have a commercially insured plan, you receive birth control for free from Wednesday on.
  • If you have a self-insured plan, you may need to wait for free birth control. To determine when your co-pay for birth control ends, ask your insurer about your plan year (the day your year-long health care coverage starts). You’ll continue to co-pay for birth control until your coverage begins again. Most self-insured plans let up on January 1st of next year.
  • If your plan has been grandfathered in—meaning that your plan began before March 23, 2010 and hasn’t changed much since then—you may not benefit from the policy amendment at all.
  • If you receive private health care through a religious organization or religious university, you may not see changes for another year. Religious-affiliated health care organizations are exempt from adopting the policy change until August 1st 2013.
  • If you like a certain brand of contraception (a certain oral contraceptive or diaphragm, for example), check if your brand is covered by your insurer. Every insurer will select a list of contraceptive brands available to users under the new policy. Those not on the list will cost you.

If you have any questions, call your insurer.

Read more about The Affordable Health Care Act here.

Read more about what it means specifically for women here