On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Under the ACA, health insurance plans must cover preventive services such as contraceptive methods and counseling for all women, without a copay or other cost sharing. Specifically, plans must cover at least one method in each of the 18 categories of contraceptive methods approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (as prescribed by a healthcare professional), as well as the medical services required to obtain them. Coverage must include:
- Barrier methods,like diaphragms and sponges
- Hormonal methods, like birth control pills and vaginal rings
- Inserted devices, like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants
- Emergency contraception (EC), like Plan B One-Step® and ella®
- Women’s sterilization procedures
RHTP supports ongoing efforts to ensure that all women are able to access contraception at no cost and that over-the-counter contraception, like EC, is also covered without costsharing. If you’re having trouble getting your contraceptives covered without cost-sharing, visit the National Women’s Law Center’s CoverHer site for assistance.
Though the Affordable Care Act sought to expand insurance coverage of contraception for millions of American women, in June 2014 the Supreme Court limited the reach of the law for those who work for a “religious” employer in the case of Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. The decision opened the door for corporations to deny no-cost birth control coverage to millions of women and to use religion as an excuse to discriminate in a wide range of contexts, including against LGBT people. RHTP would like to see our laws protect all people, regardless of where they are employed. We are working with Congress and the Administration to ensure that women have affordable coverage for all of their health care needs.
Ideological objection to emergency contraception (EC) is often based on the scientifically incorrect belief that EC pills can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, which some people mischaracterize as an abortion. However EC pills prevent pregnancy by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that levonorgestrel EC (such as Plan B One-Step® and its generics) or ulipristal acetate EC (ella®) work after an egg is fertilized. Moreover, even a method of EC that might interfere with implantation of a fertilized egg, like the copper intrauterine device (IUD), still only works to prevent pregnancy. EC will not end an already existing pregnancy and therefore does not cause an abortion. Unfortunately, opponents of birth control and abortion have effectively used junk science to undermine access to reproductive health care. For instance, the Hobby Lobby case and other challenges to the ACA’s contraceptive coverage guarantee have been driven by false claims that EC pills and IUDs cause abortion. RHTP is working hard to debunk such myths and to ensure that policy is informed by the latest scientific and medical evidence available.