Date of Defense:
April 29, 2016
Contraception allows women to determine the timing and spacing of their children, which contributes to academic achievement, economic stability, and positive health outcomes. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more people in the United States are insured than ever before. One of the many controversial aspects of this law is the Contraception Mandate, which requires insurers to cover contraception at no out of pocket cost to the policyholder. However, access to no-cost contraception is still an issue for many patients and contraceptives are still cost-prohibitive for many women. I reviewed 16 health insurance plans in Minnesota for their coverage of contraception. I found gaps in coverage consistent with my literature review that include: lack of transparency of coverage, lack of coverage of brand name contraception, supply limits on prescription contraception, lack of clarity for the medical exemption process, medical management of contraception methods, unclear coverage of IUDs and implants, and unclear coverage of services associated with contraception methods. These persistent issues in accessing contraception without out of pocket costs should be addressed by 1) increasing transparency in health insurance documentation; 2) requiring insurers to cover all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraception methods without out of pocket costs to policyholders; 3) ensuring insurers cover education and counseling services associated with contraception visits; and 4) requiring insurers to cover 12 months of prescription contraception at a time.