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Contraceptive Equity Bills Gain Momentum in State Legislatures

In the United States almost 50% of pregnancies are unintended. Contraceptive equity legislation could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion by providing affordable and reliable contraception for women.

Women Deserve Contraceptive Coverage

The issue of contraceptive equity gained momentum when insurance companies in large number decided to cover the male impotence drug Viagra. Women's groups argued that it was illogical to cover treatment of male sexual dysfunction without providing coverage for drugs and devices that would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

The Congressional Budget Office determined in 1998 that contraceptive coverage for federal employees would NOT cost the federal government additional money.

The Best of Contraceptive Equity Laws Meet Two Criteria:

1) The laws provide health care coverage for the full range of contraception needs by covering medical appointments and all FDA-approved drugs and devices;

2) The laws do not contain loopholes that weaken them and discriminate against women by permitting employers or health insurance plans to refuse coverage based on a religious view that their employees do not necessarily share.

Contraceptive Equity Addresses Women's Health Care Needs

     

  • Women of reproductive age spend 68% more than men on out-of-pocket health care costs, largely on reproductive health care services. Contraceptive equity laws can help bridge that spending gap.

     

  • Two-thirds of U.S women of childbearing age rely on private, employer-related plans for their health coverage, yet 49% of large group plans do not routinely cover any contraceptive method.

     

  • Only 15% of large group plans cover the five most common reversible forms of contraception-oral contraceptives, diaphragms, Depo Provera, IUDs and Norplant.

 

Facts Refute Anti-Equity Misconceptions There has been resistance to contraceptive equity legislation from some groups that oppose abortion and contraception. These groups incorrectly claim that the Pill and IUDs induce abortion instead of preventing pregnancy.

     

  • The fact is that the medical community defines pregnancy as the point at which the fertilized egg has attached itself to the uterine lining. The Pill and IUDs actually prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation, fertilization of the egg, or implantation in the womb.

Health insurers have maintained that contraceptive equity legislation will drive up the cost of health care coverage.

     

  • According to one estimate, a sexually active woman who does not use contraception over the course of five years will experience 4.25 unintended pregnancies, costing upwards of $14,500 for a private insurer. This expense is significantly greater than the costs associated with any form of contraception.

State Proposals Parallel Federal EPICC Legislation

Increased attention to women's health care heightened interest in The Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act (EPICC), sponsored in 2005 by U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) and sixteen co-sponsors

Despite having been introduced in 1997, 1999, 2001 and again in 2005, EPICC has not become law, however.

 

Contraceptive Equity Laws in the States

There are twenty-three states with contraceptive equity laws in effect or that have been passed by state legislatures. For details on each state, see Contraceptive Equity Laws in the States.

 

State Religious Exemption?
Arizona Yes
Arkansas Yes
California Yes
Connecticut Yes
Delaware Yes
Georgia No
Hawaii Yes
Illinois Yes
Iowa No
Maine Yes
Maryland Yes
Massachusetts Yes
Missouri Yes
Nevada Yes
New Hampshire No
New Mexico Yes
New York Yes
North Carolina Yes
Rhode Island Yes
Vermont No
Washington No
West Virginia Yes
Wisconsin (A.G. Opinion) No


* Texas enacted a contraceptive equity law in 2001 but diluted the coverage mandate significantly with a 2003 enactment that allows insurers to offer plans that do not include the state-mandated benefits.