Local News

Who Should Cover the Cost of Contraceptives?

Posted July 16, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would require most federal employees' health care plans to cover the costs of prescription contraceptives.

The vote is a rare victory for abortion rights lawmakers. Opponents say the provision opens the door for contraceptives that can cause abortions.

Birth control has been covered for state workers for more than 15 years.Kaiser Permanenteinsures about 16,000 state workers. However, the decision is ultimately left to the employer if it will cover the cost of contraceptives.

"We do offer birth control coverage or contraceptive coverage," Kaiser Permanente Spokesperson Beverly Thompson said. "It depends on if the employer group offers the prescription drug benefit for their employees. If they do we do cover it."

Most of the companies they insure provide some type of coverage for birth control.

"We have a very high percentage of our employer groups who do offer that for their employees," Thompson said. "In fact, it's upwards of 90 percent that offer prescription drug coverage."

Many insurance companies do not cover birth control forcing women to look elsewhere. Dr. Deborah Norton with Wake County Human Services says birth control is a rational service to cover.

"According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute every dollar spent in the public sector on family planning, saves $3 in public health cost. So it is a very cost effective service for any insurance provider or county to have," Dr. Norton said.

Some birth control pills can run $25 a month. At county women's clinics, women can find them for as low as $25 a year.

The state is required to cover prescription drugs approved by the FDA for its employees. That means Viagra is covered along with contraceptives.