President Obama’s health care reform law requires health insurance companies to provide no co-pay (in other words: free) contraception as of August 1, 2012. Besides contraception, the Affordable Care Act includes coverage for other services including annual well woman visits, STI and HIV counseling, DNA testing for HPV, lactation counseling, domestic violence counseling, and gestational diabetes screening. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, described the impact in her healthcare.gov blog post:
Too often, they [women] have gone without preventive services, worrying about what even a $20 insurance copay would mean to their families’ budgets and choosing to pay for groceries or rent instead. But now, thanks to the health care law, many women won’t have to make that choice.
There are, of course, limitations. The law does not do apply to the 16% of women under 60, mainly young adults and women of color, with no health insurance. It also does not use language that acknowledges individuals who do not identify as women (trans men, genderqueer folks, etc.) but can get pregnant; these individuals can be denied insurance and certain coverage based on their gender identity. With all this aside, however, the legislation pushes our country strides ahead and sets a productive and positive tone in the national dialogue about reproductive health care. Even better than that, it sets a precedent for future health care reforms.
If you have health insurance and want to know if it falls under the reform law, visit the helpful guide created by the National Women’s Law Center. The guide includes information on who you should call, as well as a script with context-specific questions. NWLC also provides guides specifically for students. Make sure that you know what your law-given rights are so that you can ensure they are being carried out.