The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Contraception

By The White House (P040114PS-0077) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”, women in the United States now have access to affordable preventative healthcare. For many women in America this is very important event, because females have a tendency to avoid preventative health care, because it can be very expensive.

The passage of the new law means private insurance plans must cover the following preventative services at no cost or with cost sharing requirements; pap smears, mammograms, contraceptives, smoking cessation services and contraceptives.

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act requires certain preventative health services and screenings to be made available to women. For the preventative health services included, a woman will not be charged a co-pay and the costs of these services won’t be applied to a deductible.

Types of Birth Control Available at No Cost

A full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraceptive devices and methods are included. Women can get access to the pill, the shot, the ring, implants, cervical caps, IUDs, diaphragms, and tubal ligation. These services are all to be provided without having a co-pay or having the costs attached to a deductible.

Private Medical Insurance Requirements

Medical insurance coverage that existed prior the passage of the Affordable Care Act are considered “grandfathered” into the new health care system. Grandfathering means the plan can continue operating in the same way it’s always done, until it makes significant changes to the plan. These changes can include; cutting benefits, decreasing premium contributions by more than 5%, increasing co-insurance, co-pays, deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums. Plans that are grandfathered don’t have to follow the new preventative services cost-sharing guidelines.

Plans that aren’t grandfathered would include group health plans created after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Eventually, all private or group insurance plans are going to lose their grandfathered status and will be required to conform to the new healthcare laws.

Employers with Religious Affiliation

The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a special rule that would allow religious employers to be exempt from providing contraceptive coverage. Although the Department of Health and Human Services may not have the legal authority to be exempt from the preventative services provisions, the decision is not final and the court must decide on the issue. Such organizations that may be exempt from providing contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act include; church-affiliated schools and universities, religious-affiliated charities, religious-affiliated employers and religious hospitals. What this means is that most religiously-affiliated employers would be exempt from compliance with the contraceptive provisions law.


Under the Affordable Care Act, women now have access to healthcare services she may not have had before. The Health Resources and Services Administration understands the need to take into account that women will have unique healthcare needs throughout the span of her lifetime. The plan was developed by the Institute of Medicine and it helps to ensure women can receive a comprehensive set of preventative health services, without having to pay a co-pay or deductible.

Making preventative services available to women at no cost will help to catch health conditions earlier thereby improving the prognosis, it will reduce the costs associated with treating diseases like breast cancer and cervical cancer, and it will improve the lives of women all throughout the United States.


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