Getting the Word Out on Contraception

Nov 24th, 2013 | By | Category: Family Planning

By Suzanne York,

Most Americans have heard about the glitches with the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

But apparently many women haven’t heard that birth control is essentially available for free under health insurance plans.  According to the Phoenix Marketing Company, which has been tracking this topic, this is partly due to pharmaceutical companies lack of advertising that their contraceptives could be effectively obtained free by many women.

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A key provision of Affordable Care Act championed by President Obama requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide medical insurance and coverage for contraceptives and pregnancy-related care. The companies must provide the coverage or pay a substantial financial penalty.

Based on three separate surveys this year, Phoenix Marketing found that fewer than 50 percent of women 18 to 45 knew that the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to provide free contraceptives to women for birth control methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The good news is that by the time of the third survey, awareness amongst women on free birth control has been increasing.

Still, reported that even among the 48 percent who know about the contraception mandate, there is widespread ignorance about what is covered by it.  The Obama administration and women’s rights supporters and activists have their work cut out.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court struck down the Obamacare mandate requiring some businesses to provide insurance coverage for birth control, making it increasingly likely that the Supreme Court will take up the contraception mandate as a violation of religious freedom.  So this issue will probably soon become more front and center.

The Obama administration has already created rules exempting certain nonprofits and religiously affiliated organizations from the contraceptives requirements. In those cases, women would receive coverage from another company at no cost.

The administration issued those rules after multiple states and dozens of religious organizations sued the government over the requirement.

In related reproductive rights news, supporters of women’s rights in the U.S. Congress recently announced the Women’s Health Protection Act.  This legislation, introduced in mid-November, is an effort to put an end to the relentless attacks on women’s essential reproductive health that have been increasing across the country the past few years.

Though the legislation is encouraging, the reality is that while it has a strong chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled Senate, it faces nearly impossible odds in the House.

Stay tuned over the coming year for major happenings on women’s rights and health.

Suzanne York is a senior writer with the Institute for Population Studies.
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