Ring the freedom bell! The Obama Administration has declared that all FDA-approved birth control must be covered by your insurance provider! While this has technically been the case for years now, many insurance companies have been dragging their feet about it. However, now that the president himself has put his foot down, it will be much harder for them to hide behind technicalities.
This law is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was actually put into place back in August of 2012, but many insurance companies are still charging their members for certain kinds of birth control. By doing so, they are blatantly breaking the law and obstructing our rights as women.
On Monday, President Obama mandated that all insurance companies must adhere to the federal rules in the ACA that declare they have to cover all FDA-approved birth control methods. Yes, that includes all birth control pills, IUDs, patches and even sterilization surgery. Moreover, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, insurance providers are required by law to fully cover at least one type of birth control from each of the 18 that have been approved by the FDA. So that means if your insurance provider has told you they cover one type, but not another, you could sue them for illegal withholding.
The National Women’s Law Center actually did a study on that last part to prove how sneaky insurance companies have been about getting around the law. For example, some were trying to exclude certain types of birth control by saying they’re only required to cover one type of “hormonal” birth control. However, according to the ACA, and the government’s reiteration of the ACA, those types of exclusions are not allowed because hormonal birth control is not a type but rather a classification.
Gretchen Borchelt, a vice president of the women’s law center, was thrilled with the White House’s recent declaration. “Insurance companies have been breaking the law, and today the Obama administration underscored that it will not tolerate these violations. It is now absolutely clear that all means all — all unique birth control methods for women must be covered.” Preach it, sister.
And it just keeps getting better. All genetic testing for BRCA genes also must be fully covered by insurance providers. That means if you have a history of breast or ovarian cancer in your family, your insurance company is obligated to pay for all your BRCA-related tests and counseling services.
The government was also careful to reiterate transgender people’s rights in the ACA. According to its set of rules, insurers must cover any preventative services that a medical practitioner deems appropriate for them. David C. Stacy, the government affairs director at the Human Rights Campaign spoke on this specificity to The New York Times, “A transgender man who has a need for breast cancer screening would be assured of getting that screening. A person who has transitioned from female to male may still have a high risk of breast cancer.”
However, despite all this, Insurance companies are still putting up a fight. Karen Ignagni, who spoke to The New York Times on their behalf, said they provide a “wide range of contraceptive options under federal law” and use “reasonable management techniques” to control costs. I don’t know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like conversations I’ve had with insurance reps over why they’re suddenly refusing to cover a medication I’ve been on forever.
Simply put, insurance companies will try any tactic to get out of covering medical costs (especially for women), but it will be much harder for them to wiggle out of paying with the government’s magnifying glass on them.