Federal Bill Would Provide Contraceptive Coverage

In 1998, health plans that served federal workers were required to cover the cost of prescription contraceptives. But this meant that only the women who worked on Capitol Hill or in the federal government were covered. What about the rest of the women in the U.S. who have the same needs? A bill that would require health plans to cover prescription contraceptives for all women has been introduced by a group of Senators and House members. It is known as the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act (EPICC). The bill would require all insurers who otherwise cover outpatient prescription drugs to also cover all five FDA-approved prescription contraceptive methods. These methods are the Pill, diaphragm, Norplant, intrauterine devices, and Depo-Provera.

Currently, 97% of insurance policies cover most prescription drugs, but only one-third pay for oral contraceptives. As reported by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, only 15% of typical large group health plans cover all five contraceptive methods. Representative Nita Lowey (D) of New York is a lead sponsor of the House version of the bill. She is quoted as saying, "Women need the full range of options because not every woman can use every form of birth control. Coverage of the full range of contraceptive methods is long overdue." Sponsors of the bill could seek to have the measure appended to the annual spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. Tell your Senator or Representative that you support this bill. You may write to them or email from ElectedNet.

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