Earlier this month, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, an independent advisory panel of health experts, recommended that all new health plans should offer to female policy-holders, sans deductibles or co-pays, coverage of prescription birth control, voluntary sterilization, breast-pump rentals, counseling for domestic violence, STD testing, and annual wellness exams.
At the time, the US Department of Health and Human Services promised to review the panel's recommendations and issue new guidelines shortly.
Today, they have announced those new guidelines, which indeed do require "health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover several women's preventive services."
According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the decision is a part of the Affordable Care Act's move to stop problems before they start. "These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need," she said in a news release.You can go here to see the new guidelines.
...Besides contraceptive use, the list includes free screenings for conditions such as gestational diabetes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), as well as breastfeeding support and counseling on sexually transmitted diseases. The full list is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Naturally, the American Family Values Children Christian Liberty Freedom Patriot Association Foundation Organization is pitching a fit, but the Obama administration "released an amendment to the prevention regulation that allows religious institutions offering health insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services." With which, frankly, I disagree, but it does render the AFVCCLFPAFO's whining even more ludicrous than usual.
Anyway. I noted this was qualified good news: Note that these new guidelines only benefit women who are already insured.
In fact, technically, it only benefits insured women with new plans starting in August of next year. Presumably, those of us with existing plans will still be charged per our existing agreements, and, if you've got coverage via an employer, you'll have to wait until your employer changes plans or the contract renews before you can benefit from the new guidelines.
And of course women who are uninsured do not benefit from them at all.