In 2007, NBGH recommended that employer-sponsored health plans include coverage of family planning services, without cost sharing, as part of a minimum set of benefits for preventive care. The Guttmacher Institute also calls comprehensive coverage of contraceptive services and supplies “the current insurance industry standard,” with more than 89 percent of insurance plans covering contraceptive methods in 2002 (Camp, 2011). A more recent 2010 survey of employers found that 85 percent of large employers and 62 of small employers offered coverage of FDA-approved contraceptives (Claxton et al., 2010).
Despite increases in private health insurance coverage of contraception since the 1990s, many women do not have insurance coverage or are in health plans in which copayments for visits and for prescriptions have increased in recent years. In fact, a review of the research on the impact of cost sharing on the use of health care services found that cost-sharing requirements, such as deductibles and copayments, can pose barriers to care and result in reduced use of preventive and primary care services, particularly for low-income populations (Hudman and O’Malley, 2003). Even small increments in cost sharing have been shown to reduce the use of preventive services, such as mammograms (Trivedi et al., 2008). The elimination of cost sharing for contraception therefore could greatly increase its use, including use of the more effective and longer-acting methods, especially among poor and low-income women most at risk for unintended pregnancy. A recent study conducted by Kaiser Permanente found that when out-of-pocket costs for contraceptives were eliminated or reduced, women were more likely to rely on more effective long-acting contraceptive methods (Postlethwaite et al., 2007).
Contraception and contraceptive counseling are not currently in the array of preventive services available to women under the ACA.
Systematic evidence reviews and other peer-reviewed studies provide evidence that contraception and contraceptive counseling are effective at reducing unintended pregnancies. Current federal reimbursement policies provide coverage for contraception and contraceptive counseling and most private insurers also cover contraception in their health plans. Numerous health professional associations recommend family planning services as part of preventive care for women. Furthermore, a reduction in unintended pregnancies has been identified as a specific goal in Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020 (HHS, 2000, 2011a).
Recommendation 5.5: The committee recommends for consideration as a preventive service for women: the full range of Food and Drug