The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week is expected to approve the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 2001 (S 104), a bill that requires insurance coverage of contraceptives. Introduced last year by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the bill requires insurance companies to cover birth control pills, Depo-Provera injections, intrauterine devices, Norplant and diaphragms, while maintaining copayments and deductibles at levels equitable with those for other covered services and products.
With the price of birth control pills estimated at $30 a month plus doctor’s fees, studies show that women of reproductive age spend about two-thirds more than men on out-of-pocket healthcare costs, according to an ABC News report. Meanwhile, more than half of Viagra prescriptions received health insurance coverage just weeks after the anti-impotence drug hit US markets, ABC News reports. As Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), one of 43 co-sponsors of the bill, said “If men were the ones who need prescription contraceptives, I have no doubt they would have been covered years ago.”
Earlier this month, New York became the 20th state in the US to require that insurers and employers provide contraceptive coverage for women. The Feminist Majority joins other women’s groups in continuing the fight for coverage of this basic health need in insurance plans that fall under federal law.