In the wake of reports revealing
that some health insurers were not fully covering the costs of birth control, the Obama administration issued new guidelines Monday stipulating that insurers must provide a full range of birth control options at not cost to consumers. Peter Sullivan reports
on the new Department of Health and Human Services guidance:
“Today’s guidance seeks to eliminate any ambiguity,” HHS said. “Insurers must cover without cost-sharing at least one form of contraception in each of the methods (currently 18) that the FDA has identified for women in its current Birth Control Guide, including the ring, the patch and intrauterine devices.”
Along with reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation and National Women's Law Center showing some insurers had not been covering certain forms of birth control, Congressional Democrats were also pushing the White House to make certain clarifications.
“I’m pleased that with this announcement [HHS] Secretary Burwell is acting to address these violations as well as others that have become barriers to accessing critical preventive care, especially for those in the transgender community,” [Washington Sen. Patty] Murray said in a statement.
Some insurers had also been depriving transgender women and men of recommended care if the gender listed on their plan was different from their current gender identity. So for instance, a transgender woman who was older than 50 might be denied coverage
for mammogram screenings.
"Regardless of your gender assigned at birth, the gender listed in your insurance record of your gender identity, you still have the body parts that you have and they still need medical care. What HHS is saying here is that people need access to preventive services that are appropriate for them," Tobin said. "It should be based on what body parts do they have and what medical needs do they have."
Almost 100 issuers in 12 states offers coverage that does not comply with non-discrimination provisions in the Affordable Care Act, according to a National Women's Law Center report released last month. Examples of noncompliance include violating prohibitions on sex discrimination and excluding care for transgender people, among other things.
The new guidelines did not mention coverage of hormone treatment, psychotherapy or surgery for transgender individuals.