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Planned Parenthood launches initiative to mandate health insurance coverage for birth control Posted: October 12th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

The reproductive health activist group, Planned Parenthood, has launched a new campaign entitled Birth Control Matters. The organization is hoping to collect enough petition signatures to pressure the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to including birth control as a mandated preventive service that must be covered for free by health insurance companies.

As part of the health reform legislation, health insurance companies are required to offer women's preventive health care services without a deductibles, co-insurance or co-payments. The HHS is expected to issue a list of required preventive services in August 2011.

According to Planned Parenthood, co-payments for birth control can range from $15-$50, putting it out of reach for many women struggling to make ends meet. The organization also points to overwhelming public support for a birth control mandate.

A survey conducted by Hart Research Associates found:

  • 71 percent of all voters believe birth control should be mandated coverage
  • 60 percent of male voters support the mandate while 81 percent of women voters are supportive
  • 55 percent of women ages 18-34 have struggled with the cost of birth control
  • Latinas report greater difficulty paying for birth control than African-Americans

Opposition to health insurance coverage for birth control is led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference has notified the HHS of its opposition, arguing that birth control does not seek to cure any disease and that mandating coverage could force Catholic institutions and employers to support a practice that violates their moral code.