According to the National Women’s Law Center, in the early 1990’s (when I was in my 20’s) surveys revealed that contraceptives were frequently excluded from health insurance plans. A 1993 survey found that half of indemnity plans for large groups did not cover any nonpermanent contraception and only 39% of HMOs routinely covered all methods of reversible contraception. Yet, late in the decade, as I approached my 30’s, the FDA approved coverage of Viagra and many insurance plans began covering the drug.
While I was in college, it was less expensive for me to carry a pregnancy to term and to deliver by emergency cesarean than to purchase birth control for the duration of my pregnancy. All my prenatal care was covered; when I had to stay in the hospital for several weeks, mid-term the entire bill was covered; and the post-natal treatment my son and I received was entirely born in the insurance premiums. At a time when executive salaries (especially for insurance companies) were and are on the rise, my birth control has become more and more expensive. Inversely, when I had cancer, and all my lady parts were removed, I paid exorbitant fees for co-pays, treatment and care.
It is just illogical to place a social premium on an unborn child through this kind of tactical policy-making of providing insurance coverage for sex-aids like Viagra, rather than to care about the live children we are living with. In my home state, these children are provided the worst education system in the country. The teen pregnancy rate is near second highest in the country and our economic system is based on service and corporate prison revenue. This is shockingly poor social engineering and is likely to result in decades of bad news for the communities in this state. How can these ill-cared for children grow up to be anything less than hate-mongers? And if you think I’m exaggerating about this (for effect) then think about where the largest numbers of American-born, “home-grown” terrorists hail from – my home state. “Unintended pregnancies carry health consequences for the mother — psychological, emotional and physical — and also consequences for the newborn,” said Dr. Linda Rosenstock, panel chairwoman and dean of public health at the University of California, Los Angeles. “The overwhelming evidence was strongly supportive of the health benefit” of contraception.
The good news is that the the Institute of Medicine, which advises the U.S. government on health issues and was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to identify gaps in the department’s list of preventive health services already covered for women have just yesterday determined that contraception is equivalent to preventative health care. What a radical concept! So that nearly “half century after the introduction of the birth control pill, the panel’s recommendations may help to usher in another revolution. Medical experts say easier access could start a shift to more reliable forms of long-acting birth control such as implants or IUDs.” Amazingly, “All but one member of the 16-person IOM panel supported the final recommendations.”
And the upside to this new policy is that improving women’s access to birth control is one of the best ways to help prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduce the need for abortion. No-cost birth control allows women the opportunity to make responsible health-care decisions and is especially important for women who cannot afford prescription contraception or deductibles. At this time, although 98 percent of women use contraception at some point in their lives, there are still 22 states (shock!: my home state is one) that do not require insurance companies to cover prescription birth control.
A new program to help us all understand more about this issue is NARAL’s BC4ME campaign which seeks to make no-cost birth control part of the preventive services covered in the new health-care system.