Should Employers Be Required to Provide Health Insurance Coverage for Contraceptive Services and Supplies?
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in its Mar. 16, 2005 letter “Urging Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee to Support the Holt-McCollum Contraceptive Equity Amendment to H.R. 525, the ‘Small Business Health Fairness Act,'”:
“Currently, women are forced to bear a heavier financial burden for health care than men primarily because many health care insurance providers refuse to cover contraceptives. Studies have shown that women of reproductive age often pay 68 percent more out-of-pocket for health care than men, in large part because of the failure of health plans to cover contraception. Given this inequity, both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a federal district court in Washington state (Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co.) concluded that excluding coverage for prescription drugs that are used overwhelmingly by women — such as contraception — constitutes unlawful sex discrimination.
Moreover, providing insurance coverage for contraceptives is sound health-care policy. The elimination of financial barriers to effective contraceptive services will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and ultimately, the number of abortions. In addition, improved access to contraception will allow more women to control the timing of their pregnancies. This, in turn, helps reduce infant mortality, low birth weight, and maternal health complications during pregnancy.”Mar. 16, 2005
Sylvia A. Law, JD, Co-Director, Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program, wrote in her 1998 article for the Washington Law Review titled “Sex Discrimination and Insurance for Contraception”:
“Almost sixty percent of the 6.3 million pregnancies that occur annually in the United States are unintended… One important cause is the failure to use effective forms of birth control… One reason why women do not use birth control is because health insurance commonly excludes coverage for effective forms of contraception that physicians provide…
Insurance policies that exclude coverage for contraception disproportionately impact women for two reasons. First, because all of the medically prescribed reversible methods of contraception must be obtained and used by women, they bear all of the physical risks and hassles that accompany obtaining and using reversible contraception.
Second, because employment-based insurance plans that ordinarily cover prescription drugs single out and exclude coverage for contraception, women bear a disproportionate share of the out-of-pocket financial costs of health care services…
Even if technology were to make effective prescription contraception available to men, excluding contraception from insurance coverage would still disproportionately impact women. Women, and only women, bear all of the physical burdens of unwanted pregnancy.”1998
The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health, in Mar. 2003 posted an article on its website, “The Cost of Contraceptive Insurance Coverage,” written by Cynthia Dallard, which stated:
“Debates over improving insurance coverage of contraceptives invariably touch on the issue of cost. Research and experience now suggest that contraceptive coverage does not raise insurance premiums and that employers providing such coverage can, in fact, save money by avoiding costs associated with unintended pregnancy…
In addition, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that an employer’s failure to include contraceptives in its prescription drug plan constitutes gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and a U.S. district court has ruled likewise… The fact that contraceptive coverage is a win-win situation for employers and employees alike can no longer be ignored.”Mar. 2003
The Christus Medicus Foundation’s executive director, Michael J. O’Dea, wrote in the “Commentary & Opinion” section of the Aug. 25, 2002 issue of the National Catholic Register:
“Passage of New York’s Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage (EPICC) bill forces New York’s fully insured health plans to subsidize all FDA-approved contraceptive pills and devices. In addition to violating religious liberty and an individual’s right of conscience, this law undermines parents by expanding government control of American children’s sexual and reproductive health…
This bill is not about individual choice nor health care. It is about state and federal control of our children and what we finance in health care. This is a totalitarian agenda… If EPICC is not defeated, what will employers and individuals be forced to pay for next – euthanasia, artificial insemination, invitro-fertilization, cloning, and coverage for unmarried and same-sex partners?”Aug. 25, 2002
The Protection of Conscience Project stated in its online “Backgrounder and Talking Points on EPICC” (Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage), accessed on Mar. 31, 2005:
“Passage of EPICC would force those who object to any form of direct or indirect cooperation in the providing of contraceptives to compromise themselves morally and religiously. It would be nothing less than legally enforceable coercion.’…
EPICC blurs the distinction between basic healing healthcare and optional, ‘purely elective’ medical intervention. Though many consider contraceptives ‘basic health care’, by no medical definition can the provision of contraceptives be considered intrinsic to the healing vocation of any doctor or health care professional. This is also the underlying reason why a drug such as Viagra can reasonably be considered basic health care while contraceptives cannot – Viagra (supposedly, at least) ‘heals’ an ‘illness’ that cripples male reproduction, while contraception (when not acting as an abortifacient) actually inhibits the normal functioning of female reproduction.”Mar. 31, 2005
Janice Rogers Brown, JD, Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Washington, DC Circuit, in her Mar. 1, 2004 dissenting opinion in Catholic Charities v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County, stated that:
“[The Women’s Contraception Equity Act (WCEA), which provides that health an disability insurance contracts must cover prescription contraceptives] mandate applies only to employers that provide prescription coverage. Thus, Catholic Charities can avoid the mandate by dropping the coverage. The state wants to make sure that women are not burdened more than others. Where employers cooperate, the WCEA will reduce the inequitable financial burden of healthcare for women. If religiously affiliated employers are serious about their objections [to the WCEA and opt-out]… women who work for those employers could actually be worse off.”Mar. 1, 2004