method, and the most cost-effective methods were long-acting contraceptives that do not rely on user compliance (Trussell et al., 2009). The most common contraceptive methods used in the United States are the oral contraceptive pill and female sterilization. It is thought that greater use of long-acting, reversible contraceptive methods—including intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants that require less action by the woman and therefore have lower use failure rates—might help further reduce unintended pregnancy rates (Blumenthal et al., 2011). Cost barriers to use of the most effective contraceptive methods are important because long-acting, reversible contraceptive methods and sterilization have high up-front costs (Trussell et al., 2009).
Contraceptive coverage has become standard practice for most private insurance and federally funded insurance programs. For example, contraceptive services are covered for all federal employees and individuals who obtain their care through federally financed programs, such as VA, TRICARE for active-duty military and their dependents, and IHS. Federal programs provide funding for family planning services in community health centers through the Public Health Service Act, in family planning centers through Title X [Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs (P.L. 91-572)], through the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, and through the Medicaid program.
Since 1972, Medicaid, the state-federal program for certain low-income individuals, has required coverage for family planning in all state programs and has exempted family planning services and supplies from cost-sharing requirements. In addition, 26 states currently operate special Medicaid-funded family planning programs for low-income women who either no longer qualify for Medicaid or do not meet the program’s categorical requirements. In Massachusetts, family planning services with no copayments will be included as part of the preventive benefits offered to members of Commonwealth Care, a program of subsidized health insurance for low- and moderate-income people (Personal communication, Stephanie Chrobak and Nancy Turnbull, Massachusetts Health Connector, May 10, 2011).
Private employers have also expanded their coverage of contraceptives as part of the basic benefits packages of most policies. This expansion has occurred in response to state and federal policies. Twenty-eight states now have regulations requiring private insurers to cover contraceptives, and 17 of these states also require that insurance cover the associated outpatient visit costs (Guttmacher Institute, 2011) (see Chapter 3). A federal court ruling issued in 2000 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found an employer’s failure to cover prescription contraceptive drugs and devices in a health plan that covers other drugs, devices, and preventive care to be discrimination against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (EEOC, 2000).