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- Most plans are required to offer at least one form of birth control to women completely free, with no out of pocket expenses.
- In many cases, the generic brand will be the free option. If you want a brand name, it is likely to cost more.
- The birth control covered is explicitly a benefit for women, not men. Therefore, male condoms and vasectomies are not covered.
- Every marketplace must also offer at least one plan that does not cover abortion.
The Affordable Care Act — more commonly called Obamacare — is a huge leap forward in women’s reproductive rights. Generally speaking, most plans are required to offer at least one form of birth control to women completely free, with no out of pocket cost, even if she has not yet met her deductible for the year. In order to find out if Obamacare is the best option for you, use a comparison tool to compare rates and providers. Start comparing health insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!
When considering Obamacare, there are some exceptions, such as:
- Policies offered through religious employers.
- Older existing plans that were grandfathered in.
- Short term health insurance.
Additionally, there are stipulations that each marketplace must offer a variety of plans, some of which have certain features (like abortion coverage) and some of which do not have certain features.
Types of Birth Control
The Affordable Care Act lists 18 different FDA approved forms of birth control. Unless a plan is exempt for some reason, it must provide at least one of these 18 methods of birth control completely free. Some sites only list them by name. We explain each one so you understand what it means when comparing different plans and can refer to this list as needed while shopping online:
- Sterilization surgery:Since Obamacare stipulates that this coverage is for women only and not men, so sterilization typically means a tubal ligation. Male sterilization is called a vasectomy and is not covered. There are multiple different surgical approaches to female sterilization. It is major surgery and a permanent form of birth control.
- Surgical sterilization implant:This is a less invasive form of permanent birth control. Again, permanent means the expectation is the patient will never have kids after this procedure. It is often done in a doctor’s office or an outpatient surgery center.
- Implantable rod:This is a form of hormonal birth control. It is implanted in the upper arm. It releases progestin only and is good for up to three years. It is popular among women with busy lives who do not want children anytime soon but are also not ready to call it quits entirely.
- Copper IUD:There are a couple of different kinds of IUDs (intrauterine devices). By far, the most popular is the copper IUD. After insertion, it can be left in place for up to 12 years. This fact, combined with its high effectiveness, makes it very convenient for women looking for long-term birth control.
- IUDs with progestin:The other kind of IUD releases progestin, a hormone used in most hormonal birth control methods. It seems to be slightly more effective than a copper IUD. It can be left in place for up to 5 to 7 years. This is a somewhat shorter time frame than the copper IUD.
- Shot/injection:This also gets called Depo-Provera. It is a hormonal form of birth control administered once every 12 weeks by injection into either the upper arm or the buttocks.
- Combined oral contraceptive pill:This is commonly called, “The Pill”. It is the form of oral contraceptive that contains both estrogen and progestin. It is taken daily by mouth. Missing a pill can reduce its effectiveness. Some women do not like the hassle of having to remember to take it every single day at a set time. Like all hormonal forms of birth control, it can also have unpleasant side effects.
- Oral contraceptives with progestin-only:This is also called, “The Mini Pill.” It is sometimes prescribed when estrogen is contraindicated for the woman in question.
- Extended of Continuous Use oral contraceptives:This is a form of oral contraceptive that delays or stops menstruation.
- The patch:This is a hormonal form of birth control. The hormones are delivered via a small adhesive square that must be replaced once a week.
- Vaginal contraceptive ring:This is a hormonal form of birth control that is inserted vaginally and left in place for three weeks.
- Diaphragm:This is a barrier form of birth control. It is inserted vaginally prior to intercourse and covers the cervical opening. Covering the cervical opening prevents sperm from entering the reproductive tract, thereby preventing pregnancy when used properly. It is used in conjunction with a spermicide.
- The Sponge:This is similar to a diaphragm, but does not need to be fitted and is made of a softer material. It contains a spermicide that must be activated prior to being inserted in essentially the same manner as a diaphragm.
- Cervical cap:This is very similar to a diaphragm but smaller. It is also a female barrier method.
- Female condom:This is a barrier method that protects women from both pregnancy and the transmission of STDs. It is the only female method of birth control that reduces the risk of disease during intercourse.
- Spermicide:A spermicide is a chemical that kills sperm. It is inserted vaginally prior to intercourse. For maximum effectiveness, it is typically used in conjunction with another method.
- Plan B:This is a form of emergency contraception. It is very often called “the morning-after pill.”
- Ella:This is a newer form of emergency contraception.
Be aware that many plans will only provide the generic brand for free. Often, brand name products will involve an out of pocket cost. If a particular brand is important to you, read everything carefully to make sure your preferred method of birth control is covered.
Because of the various rules under the Affordable Care Act concerning birth control coverage in plans, it will be necessary to read the formulary (the official list of covered drugs under the plan) and read a policy carefully to determine if it provides the kind of birth control that you prefer or that works best for you. Decide beforehand whether abortion coverage is something you do or do not want. Use a comparison tool to see what coverage is best for you. Start comparing health insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!