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Get the Facts: How Birth Control Legislation Could Affect You

Let’s talk about birth control. The fact is, whether or not you currently use oral contraception, condoms, or hormonal contraceptives, 99% of American women use contraception at some point in their lives. Recently, birth control issues have been a hot topic in Congress, with Democrats and Republicans weighing in on if birth control should be considered basic medical care for women.
 
With the 2010 healthcare laws, many ‘basic’ preventative medical services no longer require a co-pay. A few of these services include children’s vaccinations, cancer screenings, and check-up visits for seniors. If this policy is extended to contraception, all women with insurance plans will have access to free birth control.
 

Here’s what you need to know:
 
Birth control can cost anywhere from $15-$50 a month for young women, even for those with insurance. Thus, one in three women struggles with the cost of birth control. This is a huge issue since birth control is not effective unless it’s taken consistently.
 
As of right now, many states allow pharmacies to refuse to fill a birth control prescription. For example, North Carolina does not guarantee that pharmacies will fill contraceptive prescriptions. What does this mean for you? If you walk into any pharmacy in Winston-Salem, the pharmacist might tell you he or she will not give you your prescription.  In fact, only six states currently guarantee that all contraceptive prescriptions must be filled. These include California, Maine, New Jersey, Nevada, Washington and Wisconsin.
 

In 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services recommended contraception and family-planning services should be considered basic medical care and as such should be provided at no cost to women or their partners.
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In March 2010 Congress passed legislation called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must completely cover the cost of women’s family-planning care and medicine. This includes all FDA-approved contraceptives.
 
Anti-contraception politicians in Congress and some religious leaders are concerned that this new Affordable Care Act will require religiously-affiliated employers (such as religious universities and hospitals) to cover family-planning medication when it goes against their religious doctrine.
 

Churches and other places of worship are and have always been exempt from providing this type of coverage.
 
Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) recently proposed an amendment which would allow insurance providers to deny coverage for any health services required under the new Affordable Care Act based on personal views. This means that employers of any type could prevent their employees from having access to any medical coverage, including affordable birth control.
 
Nine out of ten Americans say they support subsidized family planning. Three out of four Americans believe contraception should be covered completely by health insurance companies.
 

President Obama recently announced a compromise that religiously-affiliated employers don’t have to cover the cost of contraception using their own funds, but that the insurance companies will still have to bear the cost and offer all employees birth control with no co-pay and no hassle to the woman or the employer. Studies show that this won’t dramatically impact the cost for insurance companies since the costs associated with unintended pregnancy will decrease.
 
With birth control becoming a viable issue in the news and this year’s upcoming election, it’s important that all collegiettes know how proposed legislation could affect them. No matter your beliefs, it’s crucial that college women get the facts so that you can make informed opinions and decisions!
 
 

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