Starting Aug. 1, 2012, women in the United States will no longer have to give co-pays for birth control and other reproductive services, thanks to new requirements made by the Obama administration.
Insurance companies will have to cover the costs of contraceptives — including FDA-approved devices and sterilization procedures — as well as reproductive counseling. In addition, wellness visits, diabetes and HIV screening, HPV DNA testing, sexually transmitted infection testing and counseling and breastfeeding support will also be covered. The new rules will also make domestic violence screening available at no cost.
Even though the offerings appear to be at no cost to consumers, some sources think insurance companies will pick up the tab elsewhere, charging more for premiums and still holding extra fees for non-generic brands, according to one SmartMoney blog post.
Individuals on Medicare and Medicaid, as well as those receiving health care from religious organizations are exempt from the coverage.
But can women really expect to avoid co-pays beginning late next summer?
Some shouldn't expect changes unless they start a new plan on Aug. 1 or after, experts say. Other policies may be grandfathered in. Most company insurance plans already offer cheap or free contraceptive options for women in the workforce.
The plan isn't without controversy since it covers emergency contraceptives such as the "morning after" pill. Pro-life groups oppose some of the rules, arguing that the government is freeing up drugs they interpret to be morally wrong, according to one New American blog post.