About half of all traditional health care insurers and HMOs do not cover birth control. Of those that do, many fail to explain their coverage to women, according to a new study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
“Fifteen percent of health maintenance organizations and point-of-service plans did not cover all five of the most commonly used contraceptive methods, and another six percent covered none of the methods,” Rachel Benson Gold and colleagues at the institute reported.
“Only half the plans informed enrollees – and even fewer informed enrollees insured indirectly as dependents – of whether they covered contraceptive services,” the report stated. ” Employers must insure that the health insurance plans they purchase provide adequate coverage of contraceptive methods,” researchers concluded.
The United States leads industrialized nations in the highest rate of unintended pregnancies, with 2.7 million in 1997, which are much more costly than contraceptive coverage. The cost of covering contraceptives, according to the Guttmacher Institute, is estimated to be a maximum of $21.40 per employee per month. This would account for a mean increase of less than one percent for health insurance plans that offered no previous coverage.
This past summer, the Kaiser Family Foundation found in a survey that 75% of Americans believe insurers should be required to pay for a full range of prescription birth control products.