A half-century after the advent of the pill, the Obama administration on Monday ushered in a change in women's health care potentially as transformative: coverage of birth control as prevention, with no copays.
Services ranging from breast pumps for new mothers to counseling on domestic violence were also included in the broad expansion of women's preventive care under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
Since birth control is the most common drug prescribed to women, health plans should make sure it's readily available, said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots," she said.
Officials said the women's prevention package will be available Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases, resulting in a slight overall increase in premiums. Tens of millions of women are expected to benefit initially, a number that is likely to grow with time. At first, some plans may be exempt due to an arcane provision of the health care law known as the "grandfather" clause. But those plans could face pressure from their members to include the new coverage.
Earlier requirements under the health care law improved preventive coverage generally for people of both sexes.