Under terms of a settlement reached last Wednesday, Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal, will now cover all employee prescription contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as “related medical services”. The move comes after three female employees, represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging that Dow Jones’ health policy discriminated against women by excluding contraceptive coverage. While the company “voluntarily changed” its policy, it denied any wrongdoing, instead citing a desire to avoid litigation. The revised coverage, expected to take effect next month, includes reimbursements to present and former employees for contraceptives and related expenses incurred since January 1, 2001.
According to PPFA, women of reproductive age throughout the US pay more out-of-pocket health care costs than men because of reproductive health expenses not covered by insurance plans. “Contraception is basic health care,” said PPFA President Gloria Feldt. “Studies indicate that most Americans believe prescription contraception should be covered. It’s time for corporations such as Dow Jones to do what is right for the health of America’s women.”
In related news, an article appearing today in the New York Times summarizes the growing options in contraception. With the discontinuation last July of the once-popular contraceptive implant Norplant and recent recalls of the contraceptive injection Lunelle, new products such as the non-surgical sterilization device Essure, the three-week birth control patch Ortho Evra, and the flexible vaginal ring NuvaRing are poised to gain market share.