President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010. This law made many contraceptive methods affordable to many women in the U.S. This was the first law to be enacted that set requirements for preventative health care across all the markets (L. Sobel, A. Salganicoff, I. Gomez; Mar. 29,2018, Women’s Health policy). As of 2017, 62.4 million now have health care insurance that covers many methods of contraceptives without having to pay out-of-pocket expenses (J. Taylor, N. Mhatre; Oct6,2017).
Sexually active women during their reproductive years have used some form of contraceptives at some point in their lives. This estimate is about 90% and over 80% have taken them orally. Prescription contraceptives are not only used for unplanned pregnancies, but also for a range of women’s health problems as well, such as migraines, acne, excessive menstrual bleeding and pain, uterine fibroid’s, and endometriosis (L. Cartwright-Smith, JD, MPH, S. Rosenbaum, JD, Public Health Report). There are many reasons why prescription contraceptives are important to a women’s health.
Prior to the Affordable Health Care Act, insurance companies treated contraceptives as it would with any other service for the health cares plan. Contraceptives were extremely popular with women, but they were not free (L. Sobel, A. Salganicoff, I. Gomez; Mar. 29,2018, Women’s Health policy). Many women, even with health care coverage, had to pay out-of-pocket for their prescriptions or contraception such as IUD’s. Some women, like those of low-income households, could not afford to purchase contraceptives and therefore ended up having pregnancies that were not planned. Unplanned pregnancies at the time were high among Latinos at 58%, African Americans at 79% and Caucasian at 33% (J. Taylor, N. Mhatre; Oct6, 2017). This puts a burden on the families that were not ready to have a child. Women spent on an average 21% for out-of-pocket expenses on their prescription contraception (J. Taylor, N. Mhatre; Oct6,2017). This was a cost that not all women could afford.
Since the Affordable Health Care Act, the percentage has dropped to 3.6% of out-of-pocket expense and they have saved $1.4 billion dollars that would have been spent out-of-pocket on contraceptives in the United States. Because of this, 56% of women have claimed that having access to contraceptives that are covered by their plan has allowed them a better life by being able to better support themselves and 63% have said that by having these contraceptives, that they are better able to take care of their families and themselves (J.Taylor, N. Mhatre; Oct6,2017). This act has also provided many women with counseling services and for some women with certain health related cases, sterilization. Since this act was passed, millions of women have had a full range of contraceptive methods available to them without the expense. (J.Taylor, N. Mhatre; Oct6,2017). A 2000 ruling of the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission found that employers who did cover preventative prescription drugs and services, but were not covering prescription contraceptives were in violation of the Civil Rights Act (L. Sobel, A. Salganicoff, I. Gomez; Mar. 29,2018, Women’s Health policy).
However, some see this Act as a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Such cases as Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain, who believed that it was their right to be able to control their employees’ rights to access of birth control. The two companies believed it violated their religious beliefs. The court ruled in favor of the Hobby Lobby chain in a 5-4 decision. This ruling set a new precedent that stated commercial businesses could deny the coverage of birth control due to religious beliefs. Before this ruling, the only exemptions were to individual people and non-profit or religious organizations not full profit businesses. This ruling has brought about the denial of other forms of health care and other rights of the employees. This set the Obama administration in to close the loophole. The exemption that was only set up for religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations was changed and added to closely held for-profit entities. Now companies like Hobby Lobby can refuse to cover birth control in their health plans but health insurance cannot. Health insurance companies must still provide birth control to employees at no cost (Planned Parenthood).
In 2017, President Trump’s administration decided to prioritize employers’ rights regarding the contraceptive health care bill. President Trump issued regulations that would broaden the exemptions to businesses with moral or religious beliefs. This has been challenged by eight states and has also been blocked by a federal judge in Pennsylvania from being implemented (L. Sobel, A. Salganicoff, I. Gomez; Mar. 29,2018, Women’s Health policy). This bid from Trumps administration would have greatly expanded the number of employers that could claim to be exempt from the contraceptive health care law. The bid from Trumps administration would cause many women to lose their coverage for birth control and they would likely seek out the help from services that were state funded (Gonzales, R., & Schwartz, M. 2019, January 14).
This mandate has been the focus of many lawsuits, all stating that it violates the religious freedoms of many business owners. Many of these were religious organizations, while others were secularly oriented businesses with the bosses that they themselves opposed the order because of their own personal religious beliefs opposed this health care service. It is argued that women deserve the right to birth control regardless of where she works or what her boss’s beliefs are. Businesses nor the leader of a company that has religious beliefs or moral concerns should be able to override a woman’s right to decide whether or not she wants to become pregnant in this country (S.Cooney.Time, May 31, 2017).
There are businesses, though that are seeing a benefit in providing contraceptive coverage for their employees. They state that paying for birth control is cheaper to cover than maternity leave and the birth (Michelle Andrews, Health News, July15,2014). While there are some good reasons to pay for contraceptive health care for women, most businesses still want to drop this coverage.