The price of The Pill

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

The cost of birth-control pills has been top-of-mind lately for us.

This is in the morning’s news:

“A leading medical advisory panel recommended on Tuesday that all insurers be required to cover contraceptives for women free of charge as one of several preventive services under the new health care law.

“Obama administration officials said that they were inclined to accept the panel’s advice and that the new requirements could take effect for many plans at the beginning of 2013.  … Administration officials, who say they hope to act on the recommendations by Aug. 1, are receptive to the idea of removing cost as a barrier to birth control — a longtime goal of advocates for women’s rights and experts on women’s health. But the recommendations immediately reignited debate over the government’s role in reproductive health. Women’s groups and medical professionals applauded the recommendations while the Roman Catholic Church raised strenuous objections.” Robert Pear, The New York Times.

The recommendation from the Institute of Medicine requires affirmation from the administration before it goes into effect.

We hasten to add that even if contraceptives are immediately covered by health plans starting in early 2013, women will still have to buy them until then — and also, women who are uninsured will gain no benefit from the ruling.

And then there’s this opinion piece:

“My daughter, a divorced mother of three, called me recently to complain about the high cost of birth control. As a physician, I’m familiar with this problem, yet it never fails to frustrate me.  … Millions of American women share my daughter’s struggle. Fortunately, they may soon get a break. In a report due out this week, the Institute of Medicine will review a range of women’s health services and will advise the federal government on which ones should qualify as preventive health care under the Affordable Care Act signed last year. If the institute defines birth control as prevention — and the government accepts its advice — women will no longer have to pay deductibles or make co-payments for birth control. The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to decide the matter in August. ” Vanessa Cullins, Op-Ed Page, The New York Times.

Expect a heated debate.