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Under new guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, birth control co-pays will be a thing of the past come next year.
As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) passed in March 2010, health insurance providers are responsible for covering the entirety of evidence-based preventative care services as dictated by the government.
A panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine, which advises the government, explained last month that preventing "unintended pregnancies is essential for the psychological, emotional and physical health of women," reports the Associated Press.
Additionally, contraception is useful because it allows women to increase the amount of time between pregnancies, according to the report. Pregnancies too close together impact the health of both woman and child, increasing the risk of prematurity and autism.
As well as eliminating birth control co-pays, the new regulations require health insurance companies to cover yearly "well-woman" physicals, STD screenings, domestic violence counseling, breast feeding support (including pumps), and testing for gestational diabetes.
Insurance companies will also be required to pay for the morning after pill, but not RU-486, also nicknamed the "abortion pill." In the same vein, they will not be forced to pay for abortions, but will be required to cover the complete cost of sterilization.
Anyone who purchases a new insurance plan after August 1, 2012 will be immediately subject to these guidelines, while those who are members of existing plans will still have to make birth control co-pays for a few more years.