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President Barack Obama announced major health care changes for women in America with his recent and official disclosure that contraception will soon be free for all women and that co-pays for birth control will be eliminated.

The new guidelines under the Affordable Care Act requires new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventative services such as well woman visits, breast feeding support, domestic violence screening, and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance, or deductible.

The complete list of benefits now covered as part of the new guidelines that will be offered without cost sharing or co-pays will include: FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling, human papillomarvirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older, sexually transmitted infection counseling, HIV screening and counseling, domestic violence screening and counseling, screening for gestational diabetes, well woman visits and breast feeding support, supplies and counseling.
According to the Associated Press, the Obama administration says the requirement, which affects most insurance plans, is aimed at encouraging women, particularly those who might otherwise not be able to afford it, to get critical health care services that may prevent the onset of disease.

The new guidelines are a major step forward for health care equality , making it easier for women with pricey insurance co-payments, not to have to choose between contraception and groceries. Currently, the average woman in the U.S. pays somewhere between $15-$50/month for birth control co-pays.

According to Planned Parenthood , the unintended pregnancy rate in the United States ranks among the highest in the developed world. In the U.S., a mind boggling number of nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended.

The new benefits won’t take effect for at least another year, Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases. Insurers are expected to pass the cost on to their customers through slightly higher premiums. The rules issued August 1st by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius include a provision that would allow religious institutions to opt out of offering birth control coverage. –mckenzie harris

What do you think about the news? Will free contraception slow down the rate of unintended pregnancies?

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