Since the Obama administration announced in August 2011 that health insurance plans would be required to cover contraceptive care without charging co-pays, over 50 lawsuits have been filed across the country claiming that requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception violates employers’ religious beliefs.
College students were among the first to benefit from the new health care law’s no co-pay coverage of contraception and other women’s preventive health services. As of August 1, 2012, all new health insurance plans must cover key women’s preventive health care services — including contraception and HIV counseling and testing — without imposing additional costs like co-pays.
Shortly before the end of 2012, in one whirlwind 24-hour period, I got a chance to talk to both President Obama and to Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Both of these opportunities came during holiday parties: one at the White House and one in HHS’s D.C. headquarters.
Here in the U.S., we aren’t very good at talking about contraception. In fact, we’re usually down-right terrible at it! Recent conservative attacks have focused public attention on how universally accepted contraceptive use is in this country, which may make it a little easier for us to talk about. But, these attacks have serious downsides for the contraceptive conversation, too.