Trump Strips Birth Control Coverage From Millions of Women
In October, the Trump administration issued a rule to allow employers, insurance companies, and universities to deny coverage of contraception to their employees. This denial of coverage will surely change the lives of 64 million women who were able to access affordable birth control thanks to an Obama-era rule, and critics say it will send progress in women’s health back decades. It will also affect their partners and families.
Since 1960, the birth control pill has of course proven useful not as a contraceptive. But it’s larger impact on women’s health matters too. It has been a method to lower abortion rates, with the attendant health risks, and it also is prescribed to women to treat conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.
But it wasn’t covered by insurance. Because women’s sexual health and needs are seen as non essentials, ‘the Pill’ was treated as a luxury — even though its costs made up approximately 44% of women’s healthcare expenses.
Finally, the Obama Administration mandated in the Affordable Care Act that birth control was to be covered in women’s health care plans. This coverage meant a big savings for women and their families.
This policy in the ACA brought the total cost of prescription drugs in the nation down by 63%.
The savings were real. According to a Health Affairs report, women and their families saved more than $1.4 billion on birth control in a single year. Not only that, but a second major benefit of the ACA covering the high cost of contraception, was that the rate of teen pregnancy dropped to an all-time low.
Finally, the abortion rate sank to the lowest number it had been since Roe V Wade made abortion legal in all states.
In the name of religious freedom, there was an exemption that allowed religious companies to opt out of paying for plans that provided birth control. The rule was narrow, meaning that private entities really had to prove that religion was central to their companies’ culture and also that birth control violated that religion.
But last Friday, the Trump Administration opened up that loophole wide enough to drive a truck through.
The President opened this exemption up to almost any company that claims that it has a “strongly held” “moral conviction”.
The text of this mandate allows for businesses to opt out of providing birth control “on the basis of moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief.”
So women who are unfortunate enough to work for companies who make this vague claim, will face their birth control being taken off of their plans.
These women will have to pay full price, which as US News reported can be incredibly costly:
“The Pill” cost $50 a month and $600 annually.
Birth control patches also cost $50 a month, or $600 annually.
The Cervical Cap costs $60 per year, but doesn’t have the same rate of success as the hormone-utilizing methods.
Condoms cost between 20 cents and $2.50 each. For couples that use them twice a week, that averages an expense of $150 a year.
Diaphragms require a doctor’s exam, which can cost anywhere from $20 to $200 plus $60 a year for the diaphragm itself. IUDs cost $500 to $1,000 each.
A contraceptive shot — (Depo-Provera) — costs between $35 and $75 each, plus $20 to $40 for the doctor’s visit.
Sterilization costs $4,000, but it is a permanent procedure.
The Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing) costs $50 per month plus up to $200 for a doctor’s visit and prescription.
Without this coverage, the administration is ushering back a time when women and their partners didn’t have any real control over when or if they wanted children. They will have to make decisions about whether to spend money on birth control or on other needs. And the research suggests that this change could lead back to higher abortion rates, which no one can think is a good outcome, no matter how one feels about abortion rights.
A Kaiser/Washington Post poll estimated that 77% of women and 64% of men support contraceptive coverage. The President’s move goes against the will of most Americans on this issue affecting public health and also families’ and women’s basic financial security.
The repeal has been filed as an “interim final rule” in the Federal Register. This means it will go into effect immediately, instead of having the standard period of comment. The rule will go into effect on December 5th if it is carried out as planned.
Do you think this is a good idea? Or do you think that women shouldn’t be especially penalized by being burdened with the high cost of family planning? Have your say! Use the BillCam to find you elected representative and tweet your views on this to him or her.