What do the Affordable Care Act, and the recent Supreme Court Decision about contraceptive coverage mean for you?
When the Affordable Care Act was enacted into law in 2012, it was a watershed moment for women’s health. The ACA requires that preventive health services for women, including all twenty FDA-approved contraceptive methods, be covered by insurance without out of pocket expense.
The ACA now allows women the option to choose the appropriate and safest contraception without concerns about cost. This includes most birth control pills, long acting implantable devices: IUDs and Nexplanon, the hormone patch, the vaginal ring, and tubal ligation.
Since I first began private practice fourteen years ago, cost and coverage have often been deciding factors in women’s health care decisions. Many times this has meant that the safest or most effective birth control method was not what women could choose. I frequently had patients who had to wait until they met their deductible to afford long-acting contraception like the IUD or to have necessary procedures. This created limitations not only for safe and effective birth control, but also for hormonal or surgical treatments that might be medically necessary and even life saving. Many times hormonal contraception is also used for medical management of abnormal bleeding and other serious conditions. This makes access to theses treatments imperative for all women.
Luckily, over the past 18 months thanks to the ACA, our practice has seen almost all IUDs and Nexplanon fully covered. The birth control pill and the Nuvaring, which used to be quite costly for some patients, have become universally available. Women no longer need to be concerned about meeting their insurance deductible before seeking preventive care and counseling.
So what is next? At the end of June, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing for profit employers to invoke their first amendment rights and refuse to cover contraception, and possibly other health care benefits. Whether we will see significant changes in contraceptive coverage or access remains to be seen.
Our priority at Southdale ObGyn is to offer comprehensive counseling and treatment for all of our patients. As always, we will continue to work individually with women to make the best health care decisions for them, and to advocate unconditionally for these decisions.