Free birth control is emerging standard for women - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Free birth control is emerging standard for women

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Mike Derer, File) (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)
  • NationalMore>>

  • New arrest linked to gun used after Boston attacks

    New arrest linked to gun used after Boston attacks

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:50 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:50:25 GMT
    A man believed to have provided the gun used by Boston Marathon bombing suspects to kill a college police officer has been arrested on drug and weapon charges.More
    A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is believed to have provided the handgun used to kill a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer during the manhunt, people with knowledge of the...More
  • Judge ponders overturning state gay marriage ban

    Judge ponders overturning state gay marriage ban

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:43 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:43:15 GMT
    Gay couples seeking to strike Colorado's same-sex marriage ban urged a federal judge Tuesday to overturn the law immediately and reject the state's request to stay a ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court...More
    Gay couples seeking to strike Colorado's same-sex marriage ban urged a federal judge Tuesday to overturn the law immediately and reject the state's request to stay a ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the...More
  • Denver proposes $3.3M jail-abuse settlement

    Denver proposes $3.3M jail-abuse settlement

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:43 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:43:13 GMT
    Denver officials have reached a deal to pay $3.3 million to settle a federal jail-abuse lawsuit filed by a former inmate who said a deputy ignored his blood-curdling screams while a group of fellow inmates brutally...More
    Denver officials have reached a deal to pay $3.3 million to settle a federal jail-abuse lawsuit filed by a former inmate who said a deputy ignored his blood-curdling screams while a group of fellow inmates brutally beat...More
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than half of privately insured women are getting free birth control under President Barack Obama's health law, a major coverage shift that's likely to advance.

This week the Supreme Court allowed some employers with religious scruples to opt out, but most companies appear to be going in the opposite direction.

Recent data from the IMS Institute document a sharp change during 2013. The share of privately insured women who got their birth control pills without a copayment jumped to 56 percent, from 14 percent in 2012. The law's requirement that most health plans cover birth control as prevention, at no additional cost to women, took full effect in 2013.

The average annual saving for women was $269. "It's a big number," said institute director Michael Kleinrock. The institute is the research arm of IMS Health, a Connecticut-based technology company that uses pharmacy records to track prescription drug sales.

The core of Obama's law - taxpayer-subsidized coverage for the uninsured - benefits a relatively small share of Americans. But free preventive care- from flu shots to colonoscopies -is a dividend of sorts for the majority with employer coverage.

Expanded preventive coverage hasn't gotten as much attention as another bonus for the already insured: the provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents' policy until they turn 26. That may start to change with all the discussion of birth control.

Business groups and employee benefits consultants say they see little chance that employers will roll back contraceptive coverage as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. The court carved out a space for "closely held" companies whose owners object on religious grounds. Most companies don't fit that niche.

"I don't think you will see a broad impact," said Neil Trautwein, the top employee benefits expert for the National Retail Federation. "It's a commonly offered benefit for many employers, including retailers."

The court decision involved "a very unique set of facts," Trautwein added. "Intense religious beliefs, closely held companies and the vehement objection to contraceptive coverage."

Before the Supreme Court ruling, some "grandfathered" plans unchanged since the health care law passed were already exempt from covering prevention at no cost, but that number is expected to shrink over time as employers make coverage changes.

IMS says it is still too early to discern the health care law's ultimate impact on birth control.

At least for now, it doesn't seem like more women are going on birth control because it's free. The number of prescriptions for oral contraceptives that were filled grew in 2013, but at about the same rate as in recent years.

There's also not much evidence of a shift to costlier long-acting contraceptives, such as hormonal implants. More reliable than the pill, they are gaining popularity in other economically advanced countries.

"Awareness of the provisions of the law has not been very clear sometimes," said Kleinrock. "Certainly this is something we are going to be watching."

Birth control use is virtually universal in the United States, but about half of all pregnancies are still unplanned. Forgetting to take the pill is a major reason.

As recently as the 1990s, many health insurance plans didn't even cover birth control. Protests, court cases and new state laws changed that. Obama's law is taking it another step.

Many medical groups see a strong rationale for free birth control. Contraception can help make a woman's next pregnancy healthier by spacing births far enough apart, generally 18 months to two years. Closely spaced births carry a risk of such problems as prematurity, low birth weight, even autism. And even modest copays for medical care can discourage its use.

"It's one of the most concrete ways that women have seen that the Affordable Care Act is helping them," said Amy Allina, deputy director of the National Women's Health Network, an advocacy that supports the law's requirement.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • InternationalMore>>

  • Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:42:54 GMT
    Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state...More
    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel's main airport, prompting a ban on flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot...More
  • End comes for notorious Venezuelan vertical slum

    End comes for notorious Venezuelan vertical slum

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 6:21 PM EDT2014-07-22 22:21:33 GMT
    The first of thousands of squatters who transformed a half-built skyscraper into a vertical slum were moved out by armed police and soldiers Tuesday, marking the beginning of the end for the Tower of David's...More
    The beginning of the end came for the world's tallest slum Tuesday as officials began evicting thousands of squatters from a haphazard community inside the half-built Caracas skyscraper known as the Tower of David.More
  • US: No link to Russian gov't in plane downing

    US: No link to Russian gov't in plane downing

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 6:13 PM EDT2014-07-22 22:13:05 GMT
    The Obama administration said Tuesday it would present data from the U.S. intelligence community laying out what's known about the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down in Ukraine.More
    Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian...More
Powered by WorldNow

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service