One of the enduringly controversial measures included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is in the news again.
The National Women’s Law Center reported this week that insurers are routinely ignoring PPACA’s guarantee to women that they will have to pay little or nothing for birth control devices and products. In an analysis of 100 insurance plans and their policies in 15 states, the center said insurers are charging patients for basic birth control measures that the law specifically says should be free or low cost.
“Unfortunately, not every woman who should be getting coverage of her birth control without out-of-pocket costs has been able to access this important benefit,” the report said.
The law’s guarantees around birth control and other gender-related insurance costs have already led to considerable litigation from employers who say paying for birth control goes against their religious beliefs. The courts have supported some of the plaintiffs.
Reports of insurers charging for free or low-cost birth control devices and methods first surfaced last summer. Insurers were found to be billing patients for the “guaranteed” birth control check list items, or disguising charges by including fees for other services in “bundled” package bills.
The center’s findings appear to be at odds with an earlier study undertaken by the Guttmacher Institute and published by the journal Contraception. That study indicated a major increase in insurance plans to covered the items stipulated by the law.