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Q&A: Contraception Coverage Under The Health Law

Consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a reader’s question about the health law’s provision on no-cost birth control.

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Q. Is it true that all birth control should now be provided free of cost to all women? I thought this provision of the ACA had gone into effect months ago. I know some women who are still being charged. — Marilyn

A. Under the health care overhaul’s expansion of preventive coverage, women may be eligible to receive free contraceptive services, including all FDA-approved methods of birth control. But there are some exceptions: The provisions apply to new private health plans; plans that have “grandfathered” status under the law don’t have to comply with the new rules. As time passes, more plans are losing their “grandfathered” status, but a significant proportion are still exempt from the requirement.  In addition, health plans sponsored by certain nonprofit religious employers like churches, synagogues and other houses of worship — are completely exempt from the requirement. And some religiously affiliated institutions like faith-based hospitals and universities aren’t subject to the new rules until August 2013. By that time, the Department of Health and Human Services will have come up with new rules to enable employees of those institutions to have access to free contraception through their insurers.

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