Originally created 07/12/97

Urges equal coverage of contraceptives



I want everyone to be aware of the Equity in Prescription and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 1997. It is sponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Me., and Rep. James Greenwood, R-Penn., and is expected to be introduced in the House this month.

Under this legislation, plans already covering prescription drugs and devices must include equal coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices. Also, plans that include coverage for outpatient medical services must include outpatient contraceptive services in that coverage.

Here are some facts that make passage of this legislation critical to women and their families:

While plans routinely cover other prescriptions and outpatient medical services, contraceptive coverage is meager or nonexistent in many insurance policies. One example: 97 percent of typical indemnity plans cover prescription drugs in general, while only 33 percent cover oral contraceptives.

Contraception is basic health care for women, and a critical contributor to improved maternal and child health. Unintended pregnancies place an economic burden on women and families, but planning for parenthood allows families to prepare themselves to provide for their children.

Insurers have relied on women and their families paying out of pocket for contraceptive services and supplies, forcing financial decisions that may result in the use of less effective and less medically appropriate contraceptive methods.

Ninety percent of Americans support family planning programs to prevent unintended pregnancies. Plus, family planning has bipartisan support cutting across traditional pro-choice/anti-choice lines.

Contraception prevents unintended pregnancy which is key to reducing the number of abortions.

Let your legislators know that they must support equity in insurance coverage for contraception.

Amy D. Simons, Augusta