What does "no-cost birth control" mean? How does it work?
"No-cost" means that women can get their prescriptions for birth control filled without a copay.
Under the health-care law, the cost of contraception is included as part of your premium—meaning no more out-of-pocket payments at the pharmacy counter.
How does no-cost birth control help women?
Improving women's access to birth control is positive in many ways. A woman who can plan when to have a family is able to participate in society more fully. Allowing women to plan and space their pregnancies contributes to healthy childbearing. And ultimately, fewer unintended pregnancies can reduce the need for abortion.
No-cost birth control is especially important for women who cannot afford prescription contraception or a deductible.
Wait. Wasn't birth control easy to get already?
One in three women has struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point.
Additionally, even though 99 percent of women—including 98 percent of Catholic women—use contraception at some point in their lives, before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there were still 22 states that didn't require insurance companies to cover prescription birth control.
Requiring newly issued plans to cover birth control at no cost helps ensure that women are able to access comprehensive preventive care.
What is your response to the arguments from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other groups that this requirement violates religious liberty?
We respect the important role of religion in America—and nothing about this rule will affect a person's ability to practice his or her religion. Institutions like universities, hospitals, and social-service organizations that employ and serve people of many faiths must now include contraceptive coverage among the basic benefits they provide employees. Individuals will still be able to practice their religious beliefs without government interference.
As a result of the president's decision, millions of women, including nurses, janitorial staff, and college instructors, will get access to contraception—and they will not have to ask their bosses for permission.
It is important to note that Catholic Americans support the women's preventive-coverage benefit. Fifty-five percent of Americans—and 58 percent of Catholics—believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with health-care plans that cover contraception. (Public Religion Research Institute, February 2012).
But if these people work at religiously affiliated hospitals and universities shouldn't they have to accept the organization's position on birth control?
We want to make sure women of all religious backgrounds are able to make the health-care decisions that are best for them and their families. Remember, doctors often prescribe contraception for health reasons other than preventing pregnancy. Without the Obama administration's policy, a woman could be forced to ask an employer that opposes birth control for an exemption, requiring her to share confidential medical information with her boss.
But the other groups are saying that this new rule is at odds with their long-standing beliefs?
No one is being asked to prescribe or take birth control. Those who wish to expand the proposed refusal and block their employees' access to a full range of contraceptive services are free to continue opposing contraception. Some politicians and their allies are using the debate around religious liberty to distract from their real goal: opposition to birth control, one of the many fronts in their ongoing War on Women's Health.
When does no-cost birth control go into effect?
It went into effect starting on August 1, 2012. Unfortunately, many women are still footing the bill for their birth control. If you are one of these people, contact your insurance company and get more details here.
Will the Supreme Court's decision to take up this policy mean that I'll lose coverage?
We hope not. The Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases related to the contraception benefit in the Affordable Care Act: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. Obviously, we hope the court upholds existing rulings that – in a country where over 99 percent of women report using birth control at some point in our lives – bosses have no business imposing their own politics on their employees' health and decisions.
I don't have health insurance or qualify for Medicaid. How will no-cost birth control help me?
The health-reform law signed by President Obama, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), puts our nation on the path to universal health-care coverage.
Under the law, Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid and do not receive health insurance through their employers will be able to purchase affordable health coverage in health-insurance exchanges beginning in 2014.
Individuals who have incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $43,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of four) will qualify for a subsidy to help pay premium costs. Even individuals who do not qualify for a subsidy will be able to find affordable health plans within the exchange.
Thanks to the new health-care law, health insurance will become more affordable for all Americans-whether they receive it through an employer, purchase it in the exchange, or qualify for Medicaid. All newly issued plans will cover birth control without a copay, and contraceptives are already covered at no cost by Medicaid. Learn more about the new health-care system.
Why shouldn't birth control have a copay? Other medications have a copay.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), preventive medicine is health care people "need to stay healthy, avoid or delay the onset of disease, lead productive lives, and reduce health care costs."
HHS followed the advice of medical experts and classified birth control as preventive medicine.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act emphasizes preventive medicine as a way to promote Americans' health and reduce health-care costs. To that end, many forms of preventive medicine must now be made available without a copay-including flu vaccines, wellness visits, mammograms, and birth control.
Access to birth control has been shown to reduce unintended pregnancy rates and the negative health outcomes associated with unplanned pregnancy.
What is BC4ME?
Birth control for Me (BC4ME) was our public education and mobilization campaign that sought to secure no-cost birth control in the new health-care system.