Today, the Department of Health and Human services announced that contraception will be included in a list of preventative services that women's insurance plans will provide free of charge. That means they'll be provided without co-insurance charges or co-pays. The services include:
- well-woman visits
- screening for gestational diabetes
- human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older
- sexually-transmitted infection counseling
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling
- FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling
- breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
- domestic violence screening and counseling
As for the types of contraception, that they recommend all "FDA-approved contraception methods" leads me to believe they will provide everything from condoms to IUDs to sterilization procedures, as well as emergency contraception pills. The guidelines do include a provisionary measure still under review that allows religious organizations to purchase plans for their employees that do not cover contraception. Given the definition of a religious organization they are operating under -- (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code – few organizations besides churches and a handful nonprofits would qualify. Of course, these rules only apply to those with health insurance. If health-care reform works, the number of uninsured Americans will go down drastically, but the neediest people still don't have free access to this care.
The new rules come after recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, which spent months assessing what services were necessary to women's health. As I wrote a few weeks ago when IOM released their report, the administration played their hand very well in this case, making sure that the decision to include contraception was based on the scientific recommendation of an expert panel – and not on politics. For liberals disillusioned with the Obama administration, it's important to remember that this would never happen under George W. Bush, not to mention any of the Republican 2012 candidates.