Health care law gives women access to free contraceptives

Part of Affordable Care Act takes effect Wednesday
Health care law gives women access to free contraceptives

Part of President Barack Obama’s health care law is taking effect Wednesday that will allow women to get contraceptives for free.

Despite some caveats, the federal Affordable Care Act allows millions of women free access to Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives as well as seven other women’s services, including gestational diabetes screening, sexually transmitted infections counseling and HIV screening.

Wisconsin’s Alliance for Women’s Health said expensive out-of-pocket costs are barriers for women to get preventive care.

“The average woman in the United States wants to have two children in the course of her lifetime, so that means she’ll spend about 30 years on birth control. And if you add up $60 a month and you’ve got a huge cost that can contribute to child rearing for planned pregnancies, groceries and rent, the things that women, when they’re young, really need that extra income to support their budgets,” said Sara Eskrich with the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health.

But there is a catch. Only women whose insurance plans start Aug. 1 or whose insurance companies decided to offer the benefit earlier than required by law, those who have private insurance or don’t work for religious organizations will be able to get free birth control Wednesday.

But come this time next year, most of the caveats will disappear and 47 million women will be able to get free contraceptives.

“I’ve been on birth control for nine years and I’ve recently gotten married and I’m thinking in the future, yes, I’d like to start a family, but I wanted to start a career and finish college without having children, so it’s a choice I’m glad I had,” said Danielle Iskandarani.

Wisconsin Family Action, a nonprofit group that on its website said is interested in preserving Judeo-Christian values, said it opposes the contraceptives provision in the health care law.

“It’s very unfortunate that American taxpayers’ dollars are going to provide contraceptives that could be abortion inducing,” said Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action.

Under the law, religious employers aren’t required to provide, pay for or refer contraceptive services, but a woman’s insurance company will be.

Women should ask their insurance provider if they have questions when the benefits will begin for them.