Institute of Medicine Recommends Birth Control as a Covered Preventive Service

July 20, 2011

Good news! You may remember that the health care reform legislation enacted last year included provisions for preventive health care services to be fully covered without requiring patients to have copayments.

It was not clear, however, whether birth control would be included as a preventive service. It seems obvious to us, but the Institute of Medicine was asked to make some recommendations about which preventive services for women should be included, and included birth control in those recommendations, released yesterday.

If they are adopted, preventive services including birth control could become much more affordable and accessible to women in the United States.

The Institute, after reviewing the rate and consequences of unintended pregnancy, effectiveness of birth control, and cost and access concerns, concluded:

The committee recommends for consideration as a preventive service for women: the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.

In addition to copay-free coverage of birth control, the Institute recommended:

  • screening for gestational diabetes
  • human papillomavirus (HPV) testing as part of cervical cancer screening for women over 30
  • counseling on sexually transmitted infections
  • counseling and screening for HIV
  • lactation counseling and equipment to promote breast-feeding
  • screening and counseling to detect and prevent interpersonal and domestic violence
  • yearly well-woman preventive care visits to obtain recommended preventive services

You can view the Institute’s press release, recommendations, report brief, and full report, “Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gap,” online. The Department of Health and Human Services will still need to adopt this list of recommendations for the care to be covered under the Affordable Care Act.

Some other coverage and discussion of this topic:

Seen other good links on this news? Leave ’em in the comments!

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