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The Lowdown on No-Cost Birth Control

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We're all super excited that, starting next year, newly issued insurance plans will cover the full range of FDA-approved contraception without a copay. Ninety-eight percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives, and the new no-cost birth control regulation is a big win for women's health.

A lot of people have been asking some great questions about what no-cost birth-control means. We've put together a handy FAQ page to try and answer some of them.

What does "no-cost birth control" mean? How would it work? 

"No-cost" means that women can get their prescriptions for birth control filled without a copay. 

Under the health-care law, the cost of contraception will be included as part of your premium--meaning no more out-of-pocket payments. 

How will no-cost birth control help women? 

Improving women's access to birth control is positive in many ways. 

A woman who can plan when to have a family is able to participate in society more fully. Allowing women to plan and space their pregnancies contributes to healthy childbearing. And ultimately, fewer unintended pregnancies can reduce the need for abortion. 

No-cost birth control is especially important for women who cannot afford prescription contraception or a deductible. 

 Wait. Isn't birth control easy to get already? 

Currently, one in three women struggles with the cost of birth control. 

Additionally, even though 98 percent of women use contraception at some point in their lives, there are still 22 states that don't require insurance companies to cover prescription birth control. 

Requiring newly issued plans to cover birth control at no cost will help ensure that women are able to access comprehensive preventive care. 

When does no-cost birth control go into effect? 

Newly issued insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 must cover all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives at no cost. Newly issued plans created before August 2012 have one full plan year to comply with the new law. 

I don't have health insurance or qualify for Medicaid. How will no-cost birth control help me? 

The health-reform law signed by President Obama, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, puts our nation on the path to universal health-care coverage.  

Under the law, Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid and do not receive health insurance through their employers will be able to purchase affordable health coverage in health-insurance exchanges beginning in 2014. Individuals who have incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $43,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of four) will qualify for a subsidy to help pay premium costs. Even individuals who do not qualify for a subsidy will be able to find affordable health plans within the exchange. 

Thanks to the new health-care law, health insurance will become more affordable for all Americans--whether they receive it through an employer, purchase it in the exchange, or qualify for Medicaid. All newly issued plans will cover birth control without a copay, and contraceptives are already covered at no cost by Medicaid. For more information, please go to http://www.healthcare.gov/

Why shouldn't birth control have a copay? Other medications have a copay. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), preventive medicine is health care people "need to stay healthy, avoid or delay the onset of disease, lead productive lives, and reduce health care costs." 

HHS followed the advice of medical experts and classified birth control as preventive medicine. 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act emphasizes preventive medicine as a way to promote Americans' health and reduce health-care costs. To that end, many forms of preventive medicine must now be made available without a copay--including flu vaccines, wellness visits, mammograms, and birth control. 

Access to birth control has been shown to reduce unintended pregnancy rates and the negative health outcomes associated with unplanned pregnancy. 

Got a question that you don't see here? Feel free to ask it in the comments section.

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