Britany Griffin has been taking birth control since August 2012. When she went to get it from Walgreens this month, her insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, no longer required her to pay the $7 co-payment.
“I had no idea until I went to pick it up. I was shocked,” the 18-year-old psychology freshman said. Because Griffin did not have a co-pay for her Mononessa, she felt like she was getting it for free, she said.
Although birth control and other contraceptives are not completely free, some private insurance companies cover the co-pay under their monthly premium.
New insurance plans were required to meet these guidelines by August 1, 2012.
However, for most women, it will go into effect this month because the new plan’s coverage year begins in January, according to an article on www.raisingwomensvoices.net.
Katie Vogel Anderson, a clinical assistant professor at UF’s College of Pharmacy and College of Medicine, suggested that women call the number on the back of their insurance cards to see if their plans cover co-pays.
“The insurance plan is dependent on when the perk actually kicks in,” Vogel Anderson said. “Although it can be frustrating to call, it really would be worth it.”
Some insurance plans may be exempt at first, but the government predicts that all insurance companies will be required to cover contraceptives within a few years, according to the website.
These contraceptives include the oral pill, Nuvaring, contraceptive implants, Depo shots, diaphragms, cervical caps and permanent contraceptives such as tubal ligation.
Over-the-counter options like condoms or the morning-after pill may be covered if a doctor prescribes them first, but abortions are not.
All brands aren’t covered, but all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration are covered.
Because specific birth control brands aren’t covered, Vogel Anderson said women can choose to switch brands.
If a woman doesn’t mind switching, she may be able to take advantage of no co-pay, but switching brands isn’t as easy as picking up a different pack of pills next month, she said.
“Once you’re used to a particular brand or formulation, it can take awhile for your body to get used to [a new prescription],” Vogel Anderson said. “Sometimes, the switch isn’t always as easy as you might anticipate it to be.”
The new act worked in Griffin’s favor. Walgreens declined to comment on whether the number of birth control prescriptions the pharmacy filled fluctuated this month.
For women who might switch brands just to take advantage of these new perks, Vogel Anderson had one question: “If a co-pay is as low as $6 or $7, do you really care about not having a co-pay?”
Other preventative services covered under the act include an annual preventative care visit, a diabetes screening during pregnancy, annual HIV screening and counseling.