I went to pick up my birth control prescription earlier this month. As I handed my credit card to the pharmacist to pay the usual $19.99, she said “Oh, it’s free now”. Great! I immediately took part of my savings and spent it at the frozen yogurt place next door (no wonder they say birth control makes you fat). Following my impulse fro-yo purchase (vanilla with Oreos if you must know), I began to reflect on exactly why my OCP’s are now free. I have heard snippets about new legislation surrounding birth control but haven’t really paid attention as I was annoyed that the government was ignoring glaring political issues and instead focusing on my monthly pill pack. But now that this legislation has directly affected my life, I will seek to understand.
Birth Control and the Affordable Care Act
As part of the Affordable Care Act, effective August 1, co-pays for birth control will no longer be allowed by law. This legislation does not apply to all women. Only women with private health insurance plans will be eligible for the savings. Women on Medicaid may or may not be affected by the birth control laws as legislation concerning birth control and Medicaid will be decided on a state-by-state basis. The federal government is providing financial incentives for states that do elect to provide free contraceptives for women on Medicaid plans.
Are There Any Exceptions to Free Birth Control Legislation?
The answer to this question is an emphatic “yes”. It seems that most women will fall under one of the legal caveats to the free birth control legislation. Health insurance expert Amber Williams of Bernard Health reports that there may be many exceptions to this rule and that your health insurance carrier may not have to cover the entire cost of your birth control. Health insurance plans that have not changed since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010 do not have to adhere to the free co-pay rules. Women whose plans have changed may have to pay co-pays for birth control for up to one year depending on when the change in their plan occurred. Women insured by a religious organization must also continue to pay co-pays for birth control for the next year.
Wait, With All of the Exceptions, Who Actually Qualifies for Free Birth Control?
ABC News reports that after many of the exceptions for the next year have expired, 47 million women will be getting their contraception free. But, over the next 12 months the only women who will be receiving free birth control are those with private health insurance who have recently made changes to their health insurance plan and do not work for a religious organization. Looks like I just got lucky!