I'm Lena Chen, a writer, activist, and media producer who's been called a "skank" (by Bill O'Reilly) and "a small Asian woman" (by The New York Times). My favorite part of my workday is the hate mail.For the unlikely story that is my life, read on.
Beginning yesterday, millions of folks across the country will be able to obtain contraception at no cost. But not so fast … there are still plenty (like the uninsured) who won’t be able to access these benefits. How do you know where you fall?
According to the online birth control network Bedsider.org:
This is just the beginning. Lots of insurance plans renew after August 1, 2012, so the change might not apply to your plan right away.
The new requirements only benefit people with insurance. The cost of these services won’t change if you don’t have health insurance, although other provisions of the ACA may help uninsured folks get birth control coverage down the line.
Some health insurance plans will be exempt. Health insurance plans that have maintained “grandfathered” status, as well as plans offered by churches and houses of worship, won’t have to cover these services. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has details on what it means if your plan is grandfathered in case you want more info on that mysterious term.
Religiously-affiliated institutions, including some colleges and universities, will have until August 1, 2013, to comply and even then won’t be required to directly cover these services. Instead, HHS is figuring out the best way to accommodate these institutions while still making sure coverage is available for women on these plans.
Brand names might not always be included. The rule will allow plans to control costs by, for example, continuing to charge co-pays for branded drugs if a safe, effective generic alternative is available.
Not sure if you qualify? Call up your provider using a script provided by the National Women’s Law Center, try out the handy widget above from Bedsider, and ask your friends and family to do the same :)
Georgia Representative Tom Price, when asked how low-income women could access contraception without insurance
I don’t know what country Mr. Price is living in. GOOD Magazine’s Amanda Hess and Nona Willis Aronowitz compiled stories from 25 of their peers (including yours truly) to illustrate the number of people who have been financially constrained in their contraceptive decision-making. And we are the “lucky ones”. Have a story of your own? Share it in the comments or tweet it out under the hashtag #priceiswrong.
Concerned about women’s access to healthcare? Add your name to the list of supporters for the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care (whose members include Planned Parenthood, Feminist Majority, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, among others).