By Michelle Andrews

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The average American woman who wants two children spends roughly five years trying to get pregnant or being pregnant. She spends a much longer time — 30 years, on average — trying to avoid pregnancy, often at no small expense.

That may soon change, at least the expense part. Starting this fall, the health-care overhaul will require new health plans to begin providing a range of preventive health services at no cost to patients. Many people, including women’s health advocates and some employer groups, think contraception should be one of the required free services.

“It’s basic preventive health care,” says Laura Hessburg, a senior health policy adviser at the National Partnership for Women and Families. Among other health benefits, women who plan their pregnancies are more likely to get necessary prenatal care and avoid closely spaced births, which can put a strain on their bodies and their parenting skills, and may result in low-birth-weight babies.

Many health plans already cover prescription contraceptives. Twenty-seven states have laws that require some level of coverage. Improving access and coverage even further could help reduce the estimated 3 million pregnancies a year that are unplanned.

One of the reasons for unintended pregnancies is the cost of contraception, say experts. Even if a health plan covers contraceptive services, women often face hefty co-payments, ranging from $20 to $50 per month for birth control pills to several hundred dollars for a longer-acting method such as an intrauterine device….

Hey! Boyfriends in committed relationships with ladies who are paying upwards of $50/month for birth control for the sex that you are both having together should be SHARING THE EXPENSE!!!

…Allison Nichols says she’d be grateful for help covering her contraceptive costs. The 25-year-old owner of a natural foods store in New York pays $77 a month for her birth control pill, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. There’s no generic version of that pill available, and her health plan covers only generics. She’s tried other pills, but they made her moody and caused weight gain. Her options now seem limited. “I’m just going to pay for it,” she says….

FYI to the ladies out there: JUNEL is a similar and GENERIC form of a low hormone birth control pill! Ask your doctor and your health insurance provider what the deal is 🙂

…Many employers support covering contraception because it ultimately saves them money: Even the priciest birth control is a lot cheaper than the $8,000-to-$11,000 price tag for an employee’s prenatal and maternity care….

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