As is the case with many components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, there is no simple yes or no to this question. There have been multiple lawsuits, some settled and some still ongoing, that challenge various aspects of the new healthcare law. One such case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, Burwell v Hobby Lobby (2014), argued that businesses should not be forced to provide health insurance policies that included contraception if their religious beliefs caused them to be opposed to such care. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of this religious exemption for closely held private companies, even though minimum essential coverage standards under Obamacare require that contraception be provided. The result was to create a third-party that provides this coverage to those whose employers failed to provide health insurance policies covering contraception under this ruling.
Despite the fact that contraception, including birth control for women, is a somewhat contentious issue, Obamacare has included it as part of mandatory minimum essential coverage, and in most cases it is available at no charge. However, the implementation of such a policy is a complex undertaking. So it should come as no surprise that many women continued to pay for birth control even after Obamacare went into effect, and even if they switched to health insurance coverage through the healthcare marketplace.
In some cases, continuing charges were likely erroneous, having more to do with patients, doctors, insurance providers, or pharmacists failing to initiate updates to patient records. CVS, after erroneously charging some customers for birth control, actually sent out rebates to several thousand women as compensation for such errors. In addition, it took some time for many health insurance providers and plans to make the transition (especially grandfathered plans), potentially delaying promised benefits such as free birth control. Plus, only certain forms of contraception are required to be covered, so it behooves patients to make sure that the type/brand they use falls into this category.
For example, categories for covered birth control extend only to FDA approved contraceptive measures, including birth control pills, vaginal rings, IUDs, diaphragms, sponges, Plan B (and other emergency contraception), sterilization procedures (like tubal ligation or hysterectomy), and even counseling and patient education services. All of these forms of contraception are provided to women at no cost under Obamacare. Certain procedures, however, are not covered under Obamacare. Vasectomies, for example, may not receive 100% coverage as a contraceptive method, and plans are not required to cover any drugs given to induce abortion.
If you want to know for sure what is covered, you can search for the 18 types of FDA approved contraception that qualify for coverage. However, you need to know that all plans are not required to carry all approved forms of contraception – as of July 2015, though, all plans must include at least one form of each of the 18 options from the FDA-approved list. In addition, you may not be able to continue receiving name brand contraceptives at no out-of-pocket cost unless they are deemed medically necessary. Generic brands, on the other hand, should be fully covered. This is all good news for women interested in controlling their own fertility and deciding when they are ready to conceive.
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