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Home » Health, Health Insurance

Free Birth Control for All Women? Almost…

Last updated by on 22 Comments

There are big health insurance changes coming with the new insurance marketplaces rolling out next year.

Thus far, however, I have not personally been impacted by any major changes to my personal health insurance or care as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka “Obamacare”. No premium or other cost increases or decreases. And no loss or increase of benefits.

There is one exception: free birth control. And by free, I mean no-charge and no co-pay.

For my wife and I, the immediate impact is $21.67 per month, or $254 annually in HSA savings. Nothing to scoff at, considering that this equates to more annual savings than what we pay for two $250k life insurance policies!

And it was really as simple as her going in to pick up her latest prescription and seeing $0 pop-up on the cash register display, signing for it, and walking out.

Free birth control is not the only change this year, however.

More than Just Free Birth Control

free birth controlIf you remember back to a previous post in August of last year, 8 female preventative health care benefits were added to insurance plans at no additional charge, under PPACA.

The 8 new covered services joined 14 previous women’s preventative care services, 16 for all adults, and 27 services for children that previously kicked in back in 2010.

Considering that most of the 62% of women use birth control will also get free birth control, the benefit with the broadest immediate impact in cost savings is free birth control.

But, free birth control is not yet available for everyone…

“Wait, Why Haven’t I Seen Free Birth Control!”

There was some fine print involved that may have gotten in the way of you not getting the free birth control you were expecting.

The free benefit changes did not kick in on an individual level until your annual health insurance plan renewed (or began in the event you found a new employer). For most, that meant that you had to continue paying for birth control until your first prescription of 2013.

For others, there are a few additional barriers to free birth control out there:

  • You must have health insurance. If you don’t, you’ll have to find free birth control by other means.
  • The birth control must be on the list of FDA-approved contraceptives and prescribed.
  • If the birth control is branded, your plan is not required to cover it 100% and can implement a cost share with you if there is a generic deemed to be just as effective and safe. Each plan will vary on what they will charge you, if at all for branded birth control.
  • If your employer has a grandfathered-in insurance plan and hasn’t made changes in insurance providers or plan coverages and costs, you may not have access to free birth control  yet. As soon as they make changes, however, they forfeit the grandfathered plan status, and your birth control will be free.

If you’re still paying for birth control, these are the likely reasons. If you don’t know why you are still paying, you’ll want to do a bit of research. You wouldn’t want to keep paying for a branded birth control, for example, when there is an equally effective generic available to you for free. Check with your doctor, pharmacist, and/or your HR department to find out more (unless you work for Domino’s Pizza, that is).

Birth Control Discussion:

  • If you haven’t received free birth control yet, why?
  • Have you made the switch from branded to generic birth control to get it for free?

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22 Comments »
  • Nicholas says:

    Theres no such thing in life as a ‘free lunch’. Everything is paid for, one way or another.

    • df says:

      You are correct. It is not free, but this change in the law will end up saving all of us millions of dollars. Thousands of women get pregnant each year that do not want to get pregnant and cannot afford it. The government picks of the tab for their healthcare costs. Many people that previously could not afford birth control will not have this available to them and will be in more control of their family plans, all the while saving US money and keeping the woman in the workforce.

      Many people do not realize that we have always been paying for the healthcare of people who cannot afford it. Now at least, these people will have insurance and preventative services, which will cost our country less in the end.

  • Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    Yes, our plan rolled over last August so we stopped paying out-of-pocket for BC at that time. Since we switched to a generic a couple years ago we had only been paying about $10/month, so it’s not a big savings but it’s nice.

  • CountdownToIndependence says:

    Grr, I was all excited to get my refill this month thinking it would be free. But nope, I still had to fork over $37.50 in copay. I haven’t check with HR since I find it awkward to share my reproductive status with work colleagues, but I’m guessing the insurance plan is grandfathered in.

  • Jay says:

    “free”

    aka those with moral objections, including religious institutions, are now forced to pay for birth control and abortion inducing drugs.

    it’s not free, as Nicholas said, nothing is “free”. what it is is disturbing and a gross overreach of the federal government and violation of religious freedom.

    • Informed says:

      Debate all you want about whether this is an overreach of the federal government, but religious institutions are explicitly exempted from this provision. Please know the facts before entering into a debate.

  • Kyle says:

    Half of this country, the half that pay federal income taxes – PAY for this service. So, you may be paying something, maybe less, maybe more for your birth control.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Actually, that’s not true at all. The insurance company pays for it as a result of the govt. making them pay for it. They may pass that cost off to consumers (however, another provision in Obamacare is that Under the law, small-group and individual-plan insurance companies that annually spend less than 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care owe their customers a rebate. For insurers to large businesses, the percentage split is 85-15). So, lets be clear, the govt. is not paying for this – it was part of the deal cut with insurers.

      • Dustin says:

        You say you’ll save $254 annually in HSA savings this year. How much did your health insurance coverage increase this year? How much will it increase next year?

        My insurance premiums increased $180 this year while my wife and I save $60 on the cost of the birth control (12mo * $5/copay). Our net saving are $120 this year.

        I’m betting next year we’ll be close to breaking even.

        I’m willing to bet these “savings” are short lived until the rest of the Affordable Care Act kicks in and costs continue to be passed along to employees while employers will not be able to keep up with their portion of the insurance they cover.

        My company currently covers 85% of the insurance premium. However, they just announced starting in 2019 they will cap the increase in what they cover at 3% annually. Meaning, if insurance premiums increase 9% in 2019 I’ll be taking on a 6% increase in premiums. I doubt I’m alone in this.

  • Evelyn says:

    I’m just irritated because our choice of birth control (condoms) is not covered. Why is the government in the business of picking preferred birth control? So, now I have to essentially pay for birth control I don’t use (in the form of increased premiums so that others can get their ‘free’ birth control) and still pay for mine out of pocket. How is that right?

    • Dustin says:

      Why should insurance companies pay for a persons birth control?

      It is an individual or couples decision to use birth control. People must be held accountable for the choices they make in life.

      Having insurance companies offer free birth control to prevent those that cannot afford to have children from having children?

      Why don’t we start telling them they won’t be accountable for any bad decisions they make in life.

      Unbelievable.

      • Irwin says:

        Hear hear. I feel strongly against this being considered healthcare. Free to the consumer makes it an enticing sound bite, but consider the ramifications beyond the dollar.

        It’s like eating out and then expecting my meal on the house, because the government worried about my food access. Good for MY wallet, that’s about it.

        There’s a threshold for what patients need free basic coverage for, this is far from ever being one.

    • Julie says:

      I’m a pharmacist by trade. Obamacare did cover condoms; there is a monthly limit. And only for women (not for men) – which I thought was interesting… Ask your prescriber for a prescription.

  • df says:

    I am amazed how closed minded some people can be.

    Erections are covered by insurance (Viagra), so why not the pill?

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=91538

  • Julie says:

    I hate to advertise this but a lot of the requirements (or “prior authorization criteria) for brand-name or costly birth control is extremely lofty. The vast majority of the time: patient cannot remember to take her birth control regularly so patient will get NuvaRing. Patient states she cannot tolerate generics in general, etc-etc… So this law essentially wiped out a formulary generic birth control. And once you make something “free” to consumer and blind the ultimate user from cost, price will skyrocket on generic birth control and NO ONE will know or care. This happens all the time with anything the government pays in “full” (e.g. government covers dialysis in full and why nephrologists get paid so much…) The intermediate payers lose all sorts of negotiating power.

    HUGE win for pharmaceutical companies. Huge loss for taxpayers.

    I have to wonder which companies backed Obamacare… I haven’t looked them up… But I wouldn’t be surprised…

  • Crystal Gail says:

    My health insurance just renewed this month and when I went to pick up my BC it was free! Completely free! I use a brand name BC that there is no generic offered for and I was paying out of pocket between $50-$80 a month. Now to pay nothing is amazing and will save me so much! Thanks Obama!

  • Lisa says:

    My husband and I pay absolutely nothing for birth control. We practice natural family planning, and we track my fertility. On fertile days (bc we’re not ready for kids), we abstain. It’s actual pretty easy, and I like it because I’m not pumping hormones into my body everyday. My husband and I eat organic as well, and it would seem silly to me be so concerned about pesticides, hormones, etc in my food but think the pill is fine. Anyway, the cost for the initial classes is something like $100, but that also includes on instruction book, basal thermometer, and charts. My husband and I have been using it for over a year, and my best friend and her husband has been using it for over 2 years. It’s incredibly safe and natural and effective if you use it right!

    http://www.ccli.org/ This is the organization we took our classes through. :)

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