Most health insurance companies are offering the free birth control required under the Affordable Care Act, but gaps still remain, according to a new report.
The Kaiser Family Foundation examined 20 health insurance providers in five states and found women are still paying some contraceptives, including vaginal rings, patches and implants.
The free birth control requirement is both a key and controversial piece of President Obama’s signature health law, seen as one of the many ways the law helps lower health costs for women. The report found that while many insurance carriers in California, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas are covering contraceptives cost-free, some do not fully cover Depo-Provera shots, the OrthoEvra patch, certain types of intrauterine devices or IUDs, and emergency contraception.
Without coverage, the contraceptives can be expensive. An IUD, for example, costs up to $1,000—which means that without insurance coverage, one of the most effective forms of birth control is unavailable to some of the women who want to use it.
“We encourage the administration to provide guidance and clarity to insurance companies to ensure all women can access the birth control methods that work for them without cost barriers, as the law intended,” Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
The Kaiser report notes that insurance carriers are permitted to limit the forms of birth control they cover under Obamacare, but the companies should still offer leeway to consumers who have a medical need for certain devices, the report found.
The report also found that despite the widespread attention to the effect the contraceptive mandate would have on religious institutions that oppose birth control, few groups have applied for a religious exception to the law.
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