Prescriptions for contraceptives skyrocket under Affordable Care Act, says new government report

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

- A new report from the Obama administration finds that women saved more than $483 million on prescriptions for oral contraceptives last year, thanks to an Affordable Care Act provision that requires certain medications to be covered at no cost to plan members.

Friday's report from the Department of Health and Human Services comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on the constitutionality of a health law requirement that for-profit corporations cover birth control for women under employee health insurance plans.

The health law allows non-profit religious organizations to forego the coverage if they have religious objections.

But in the so-called "Hobby Lobby" case, for-profit employers are challenging the health law's contraceptive coverage requirement, saying it violates their rights of religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In the highly anticipated decision, the high court must decide if for-profit corporations have the same rights as non-profit organizations that were formed for religious reasons.

The case was filed by the owners of Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts retailer. The owners mainly object to covering emergency contraceptives, like Plan B, because of their religious beliefs

Friday's report from HHS shows that the number of prescriptions for oral contraceptives with no co-pays increased by 24.4 million from 2012 to 2013, due mainly to the health law's zero-cost sharing provisions for certain preventative services, according to a recent report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

The HHS report also estimated that 76 million Americans benefitted from new coverage for expanded preventative services under the health law.

“Today’s findings are just one more indicator that the Affordable Care Act is delivering impact for millions of people nationwide,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “Seventy-six million is more than just a number. For millions of Americans, it means no longer having to put off a mammogram for an extra year. Or it means catching a problem early enough that it’s treatable.”

To see the HHS report, go to http://1.usa.gov/1pYiEWq

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