Health & Human Services includes coverage for contraception — What is the next step?

Get ready: the U.S. Department of Health and Human is recommending inclusion of contraceptive counseling and provision of all methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration without out-of-pocket costs to patients for all new private health plans written on or after Aug. 1, 2012. In adopting these recommendations for women's preventive healthcare as suggested by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), how will this impact access to contraceptives for women?

While the federal agency endorsed the IOM recommendations in full, it also included an exemption that makes it possible for religious employers to opt out of the contraceptive coverage provision. Such an exemption was not required by the healthcare reform law and could potentially inhibit some women's access to contraceptive services and supplies. What does the new guidance mean for family planning clinicians? Look to the next issue of Contraceptive Technology Update for more information.