Washington, D.C. — Today, Jessica Arons, Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress, applauds the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, for recognizing that contraception is preventive, basic health care for women. HHS’s historic decision will require full coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods with no cost sharing, such as co-pays or deductibles, by new group health insurance plans beginning on August 1, 2012.
The high cost of contraception results in many women not using it or using it inconsistently, which contributes substantially to our country’s high rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion. No-cost contraception for insured women will go a long way toward reducing those rates as well as decreasing the health problems that women and their children experience when pregnancies are unplanned and/or spaced too closely together.
HHS has proposed to exempt certain religious employers from this requirement and will solicit comments on that proposal. While the exemption is relatively narrow, we believe the conscience of individual patients, not institutions, ought to be paramount in determining what appropriate medical care is for them. Moreover, contraceptive use is well-accepted and nearly universal in our society—more than 99 percent of U.S. women who have had intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method in their lifetime. The rate is virtually identical—98 percent—for Catholic women.
In addition to contraception, HHS will require a number of other preventive services to be covered at no additional cost: human papillomavirus, or HPV, DNA testing for women over 30; counseling for sexually transmitted infections; counseling and screening for human immune-deficiency virus, or HIV; screening for gestational diabetes; breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; screening and counseling for domestic violence; and annual well-woman visits. Taken together, increased access to these preventive services will result in demonstrably greater health and well-being for women—and their families.
To speak to Jessica Arons, please contact Anne Shoup at 202.481.7146 or email@example.com.