Free birth control could soon be a reality. A medical advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine--a non-partisan group--recommended to the Health and Human Services Department eight services for women it believes should qualify as preventive care, including contraception, reports The New York Times.
Under health care reform, insurers must fully cover the cost of preventive care. That means if these guidelines the group has just outlined are adopted, birth control would be preventative care, resulting in free birth control for all. As of now, most insurance companies have some contraceptive coverage with copays, explains The New York Times.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, is taking recommendations from medical panels into account as she decides on a minimum package of essential health benefits to take effect in 2013, which Congress won't need to approve.
But those looking to save on prescriptions should hold off on rejoicing--these are just recommendations. The Obama administration has yet to adopt any new measures and Sebelius didn't give any indication of her position in her murky statement.
"Before today, guidelines regarding women's health and preventive care did not exist," she said. "These recommendations are based on science and existing literature and I appreciate the hard work and thoughtful analysis that went into this report."
The panel justified its ruling on contraceptive coverage citing the stats: Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and about 40 percent of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion. Increasing the availability of birth control would then equal fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions, explains the New York Times.