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Who Should Cover the Cost of Contraception?


Some in Congress are trying to force change by passing a law that would require all employers and insurance companies to pay for birth control. Progress has been slow, but individual states have passed such laws on their own. States that require companies who pay for other prescription drugs to pay for prescription birth control include Maryland, Georgia, Vermont, Maine, Nevada, Connecticut, North Carolina, Hawaii, New Hampshire, California, Iowa, Delaware, and Rhode Island. But nine of the 13 states have provisions that let employers, enrollees, or insurers who object to such coverage on "religious grounds" off the hook.

Most experts say individual states will probably continue to pass laws, and people will keep a close eye on the progress of Jennifer Erickson's lawsuit. But what can a woman who is paying for her own birth control do in the meantime?

"Employees have the ability and the right to speak to their benefits manager," attorney Rashke says. "There's no reason an employee can't go to the benefits manager and say, 'I notice in my prescription coverage there's an exclusion for contraception.' That's the first step." If you don't want to do it on your own, Rashke advises talking to other women you work with to see if they will take the concerns to the benefits manager as a group.

"One person can do a lot by raising the issue at cocktail parties, writing a letter to the editor ... just point out this lack of coverage that so many of us haven't even thought about," she says.

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