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Birth Control and the Affordable Care Act: What You Need to Know

Birth Control and the Affordable Care Act: What You Need to Know Image

Sure, you’ve heard the term “Obamacare” tossed around, but what is it actually? More formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), this health care reform law was passed in March 2010 and changed the availability of health insurance across the country. More pertinent to Nurx and your well-being, it also changed the availability of birth control. Here is everything you need to know about how the Affordable Care Act affects Nurx’s ability to deliver your affordable birth control pills, patches, or rings to your door.

Goals of the ACA

At the end of the day, the ACA was passed with three goals in mind:

  • Lowering the cost of health insurance while providing it to more people.
  • Increasing Medicaid coverage to protect all adults that make 138 percent below the federal poverty line.
  • Advocating for new health care technology that should lower costs.

So how has the ACA gone about to achieve this? One way is by requiring all Health Insurance Marketplace plans to include coverage for specific health rights. This includes free preventative care, covered mental health services, and — you guessed it — contraceptives.

How Birth Control Coverage Under the ACA Works

Just because the ACA has to cover birth control for women across the country, doesn’t mean there can’t be any stipulations. Actually, there’s just one — you need a doctor to provide a prescription for your contraceptives. With Nurx, this is never a problem, as you have access to licensed and seasoned medical professionals with just a few clicks.

When you do get your prescription, there’s even better news — under the ACA, you can’t be charged a copayment or coinsurance, even if you haven’t met your deductible. It doesn’t get much better than that.

What Birth Control Methods Does the ACA Cover?

So, there must be a catch, right? The ACA probably only covers old-school rubber condoms or some equally archaic methods of baby prevention. Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The ACA is required to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods as long as they’re prescribed by a doctor. In case you’ve lost track, that amounts to 18 different contraceptive options for you to choose from, not counting the wide variety of brands and products within each category. Basically, your options are limitless. You’ll be able to obtain methods such as:

  • Emergency contraceptives, like Ella or Plan B.
  • Implanted devices, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Barrier methods, like sponges or diaphragms.
  • Sterilization to permanently prevent pregnancy.
  • Hormonal methods, like rings or pills.

Whatever method you decide on, you’re also guaranteed to get free patient counseling and education to make sure it’s the right option for you.

What Birth Control Methods Doesn’t the ACA Cover?

Unfortunately, the ACA can’t cover everything. The ACA doesn’t cover vasectomies for men, so if you were hoping your man could dam up his swimmers instead of you going on the pill, think again. Of course, the best way to find out if something is or isn’t covered is to check the specifics of your individual health care plan.

How Is the ACA Helping Women Who Need Contraceptives?

This all sounds awesome, right? It is, especially when you look at just how many women have been assisted with paying no out-of-pocket costs for their contraceptives. According to the National Women’s Law Center, approximately 62.4 million women now have access to birth control without needing to pay extra costs. How much are they actually saving? Experts put the number at a combined $1.4 billion in 2013 alone. On the individual level, that equates to about $255 a year.

When you look closer at the statistics, about 66 percent of women on oral contraceptives do not pay out of pocket. The number jumps to 75 percent for women using vaginal rings. And even more impressive are IUDs — 87 percent of women using these don’t have to pay out-of-pocket costs.

To get an even better understanding of the benefits of the ACA when it comes to birth control for women, consider the burden of birth control on private insurance plans before the ACA was mandated. Oral contraceptives made up about 21 percent of out-of-pocket costs for women. In the year 2014, just four years after the ACA was enacted, this number dropped to 3.6 percent — an incredible decrease.

How ACA Contraceptive Coverage Varies From Employer Health Insurance

Unfortunately, if you don’t get your insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, regulations on birth control might be a little different for you. If you get your insurance through your employer and they have a religious objection to birth control, legally they are protected if they don’t wish to cover the cost. This includes both religious employers, like churches, as well as nonprofit religious organizations, like hospitals or universities.

Of course, states also have their own individual mandates that further govern the accessibility of birth control. To know for certain what you’ll pay for birth control, the best method is to contact your insurance company and ask. Of course, if you don’t want to go through the hassle, Nurx is always here to help. Nurx’s robust telehealth platform allows providers to gather a comprehensive medical history to determine which birth control medications are right for you and how much they will cost.

And if you don’t have insurance or you find out your employer insurance won’t cover birth control, Nurx provides generic options for as low as $15 a month.

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