The Affordable Care Act and Birth Control Coverage
Under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”), health insurance plans are legally required to cover certain forms of birth control. This means that you have access to free contraceptives, even before you hit your deductible! Here’s what you need to know.
What’s Free and What Isn’t?
The ACA mandates that insurers cover at least one birth control method from each of the 18 FDA-approved categories, including:
Barrier methods, like diaphragms, sponges, female condoms, and spermicides
Hormonal methods, like birth control pills, vaginal rings, shots, and patches
Implanted devices, like intrauterine devices (IUDs)
Emergency contraception, like Plan B
Sterilization procedures and implants
Patient education and counseling
Keep in mind: your insurance doesn’t have to cover every form of contraceptives. For example, insurers typically choose to pay for a generic birth control pill. If you like to use a brand-name pill, you’ll likely have to pay either a co-pay or full price for it. If there is no generic version of a birth control method, the brand will be covered (e.g. Nuvaring).
Also, insurers are not required to cover abortion-related drugs or male forms of birth control, like male condoms and vasectomies.
What If I Have Insurance Through a Religious Institution?
Certain churches and other religious employers are not required to cover contraceptives. If you work for one of these employers, you may have to pay for your birth control out-of-pocket.
Other non-profit religious organizations, like certain hospitals and universities, also do not have to pay for contraceptive coverage. However, if your health plan is sponsored by one of these organizations, a third party will arrange for you to still get fully-covered birth control.
Where Else Can I Get Free Birth Control?
If your employer doesn’t cover birth control because of religious objections, or if you don’t have insurance, you may still be able to find free or low-cost contraceptives. This tool helps you locate nearby community centers that can connect you with programs and organizations (like Planned Parenthood) that offer affordable birth control options.