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U.S. Panel Recommends Free Coverage of Birth Control
Date:7/20/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women in the United States could have their birth control covered by insurance companies, free of co-pays, if provisions of a new report are enacted as part of last year's landmark health-reform law.

That is one of eight recommendations in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that looks to expand preventive services for women under the 2010 law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The 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.

"This report provides a road map for improving the health and well-being of women," committee chair Linda Rosenstock, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. "The eight services we identified are necessary to support women's optimal health and well-being. Each recommendation stands on a foundation of evidence supporting its effectiveness."

The new recommendations were based on a review of guidelines and the effectiveness of various preventive services, the committee said.

By adding birth control to the list of recommendations, the committee said it hopes to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies, which make up almost half of all pregnancies in the United States.

Reaction to the IOM's recommendation varied.

"Millions of women, especially young women, struggle every day to afford prescription birth control," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "Today's recommendation brings us a step closer to ensuring that all newly insured women under the health care reform law will have access to prescription birth control without out-of-pocket expenses."

But Jeanne Monahan, director of
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