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HHS: Insurers Must Pay for Birth Control for Women
Date:8/1/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Beginning Aug. 1, 2012, women in the United States will have their birth control covered by insurance companies, free of co-pays, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

"Most private health care plans, including the private health care plan available to members of Congress, already include most of these services, including contraception. Family planning is something that keeps women healthy, and it was an important piece of today's announcement," Stephanie Cutter, a White House advisor, told ABC News Monday.

The move to make contraception free to women is one of eight new measures aimed at providing "preventive health services" to women, the HHS said. They follow on recommendations from a report issued July 19 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which advises the federal government.

The new initiatives are based on those recommendations and seek to expand women's access to preventive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an agency statement released Monday. "These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature, and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need."

The IOM report was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to identify "gaps in preventive services for women as well as measures that will further ensure women's health and well-being," the agency said.

In addition to insurance coverage for birth control, the HHS is also mandating free coverage of the following:

  • Well-woman visits.
  • Screening for gestational diabetes.
  • Testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV) as part of cervical cancer screening for women age 30 and older.
  • Counseling about
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