Free birth control gives women more choice

(BPT) – Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as “Obama Care,” an estimated 47 million women are gaining access to all FDA-approved methods of birth control free of charge. This new law provides access to birth control methods that may have been too expensive for many women with private health insurance plans before the ACA provisions took effect last year. The result is that these women will now have more options to choose from as they decide what method works best for them.

Awareness of the new birth control coverage is low, according to a recent survey by Phoenix Marketing International. The survey found that more than half of women aged 18 to 45 were unaware that birth control will be covered at no cost under the ACA for those with private insurance. Yet of those women who were aware, nearly one quarter said they were not sure what birth control methods will be included under the ACA. Further, only one in 10 women surveyed said she had requested information from her doctor or health insurance company regarding what’s covered, such as a list of birth control options.

Cost can impact a woman’s birth control choice. As more private insurance plans adopt the new ACA provisions, OB/GYN physicians across the country are helping patients find out whether their particular plans now provide free birth control.

For instance, Dr. Gerard Reilly, at Seven Hills Women’s Health Centers in Cincinnati, offers a range of birth control methods to his patients. But some options have been out of reach financially for patients with high-deductible insurance plans. As an example, Dr. Reilly offers the Essure(R) procedure for women whose families are complete and are seeking a highly effective permanent birth control solution. Essure is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in a physician’s office. However, some patients have been hesitant to get the procedure due to high out-of-pocket costs.

To address this issue, Dr. Reilly’s team has been contacting patients’ private insurance companies to verify whether they are eligible for free birth control under the ACA. As it turns out, several patients are now covered and are able to get the Essure procedure without a co-pay or a deductible. Patients who learn this news often decide to schedule their Essure procedure with Dr. Reilly.

Besides birth control, the ACA provides coverage for many women’s preventative services, including annual well-woman visits, mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer and prenatal care.

Women are encouraged to contact their health insurance plans directly to learn whether preventive services are covered with no cost-sharing.

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