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Molly Redden spotlights a new study by the Guttmacher Institute showing that the Affordable Care Act has boosted coverage of birth control pills without a co-pay to 40 percent of privately ensured women vs. the 15 percent who got pills in 2012. Provision of other methods of contraception without a co-pay has also risen.
The reason is the much-contested ACA rule mandating that private insurers cover contraceptives and birth-control counseling without a co-pay. The Catholic bishops, right-wing politicians and forced-birthers have latched onto the rule as an infringement of religious rights (and as yet another way to attack the ACA).
Come spring, the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.. The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores say it violates their religious beliefs to have to provide contraceptive coverage for their female employees. If the Court rules in their favor, the effect might be to end the birth-control mandate for everyone and open the door to all kinds of religious objections to ACA provisions. Some religions, for instance, object to most medical interventions. Such a ruling would constitute one more reason we need single-payer healthcare coverage.
that the federal contraceptive coverage requirement is already having a substantial impact in eliminating out-of-pocket costs among privately insured women for at least some methods of contraception—including oral contraceptives, the most popular reversible method in the United States. Between fall 2012 and spring 2013, the proportion of pill users paying US $0 out of pocket increased from 15% to 40%, and the proportion for [vaginal] ring users increased from 23% to 52%. That this progress has happened so rapidly—in just the first several months that the requirement has been in wide effect—is particularly noteworthy.
Further progress can be expected as more private health plans become subject to the requirement. [...]
This analysis also found potential troubling violations of federal Medicaid law. For Wave 2, about one fifth of women with public insurance reported paying some amount out of
pocket for the pill. The vast majority of those women are likely enrolled in Medicaid and should be entirely exempt from cost sharing for family planning services and supplies under a law that has been in force for four decades.
This is a good start that promises to provide tens of millions of women with free contraception unless our esteemed Supreme Court decides that sectarian religious belief gets to trump the common good.
Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 12:56 PM PST.