Free Birth Control & Breast Exams Start Today: How the New Rule Applies to You

birth control pillsPresident Obama is lookin' out for us ladies! Beginning today, August 1, given the government's new health care reforms, private insurance companies must start providing contraception for free! In other words, without any kind of co-pay. And that's not all. The rule applies to a bevy of other preventative women's health services, including well-woman visits, mammograms, gestational diabetes screening, HPV DNA testing for women 30+, STI screening (including HIV), breastfeeding support/supplies/counseling, and domestic violence counseling. Yippee!

But before running over to your local drugstore to demand the pharmacist fork over your monthly pill pack, check out this easy breakdown of how the new law may affect you, depending on your insurance sitch ...


If you have a private health insurance plan from your employer or that you pay for out-of-pocket, the new rules apply to you. About 65 percent of women between the ages of 18 to 64 (in other words, adults who don't qualify for Medicare) have this kind of insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Unfortunately, this means the 19 mil. women in this age group who are uninsured will still have to pay for birth control.)

If your plan starts today or after today, you'll be able to take advantage now. However, because the law only began to take effect today, anyone whose most recent plan began earlier this year or late last year may have to wait until they've renewed to see the benefit. For instance, if your plan started on July 1, 2012, you may have to wait until you renew on July 1, 2013. But some insurance plans say they'll implement the law early. (You could call your health insurance provider to find out what their specific scoop is.)

If you're on Medicaid (like 17 mil. other women in the U.S.), it's up to your state to determine whether or not your plan will provide no-cost contraception and the other women's health services the rule applies to.

If your private health insurance plan has not changed since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010, a "grandfather" clause may mean the plan does not have to adhere to the new rules. By 2013, about half of large employer insurance plans and about one-third of small employer plans will still fall under this caveat and not have to provide free contraception. Ugh!

If you get your insurance through a religiously-affiliated employer, you'll have to pay co-pays for the next year, as well.

In short, it seems like not all that many women will be able to nab free birth control today. But the good news is that all this red tape is temporary (and understandably a natural part of implementing a new, wide-sweeping law), and by this time next year, 47 million women will be able to get their contraception and preventative health care services for FREE! Awesome!

How do you feel about this new rule? Will you be able to take advantage of it?


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