Employer's Health Plan Must Include Birth Control for Women
WebMD News Archive
"Contraception is a fundamental part of healthcare,"
noted David A. Grimes, MD. "It's good, cost-effective, preventive
healthcare." He is vice president of biomedical affairs at Family Health
International, a nonprofit group in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
At the time Erickson filed suit, about half of all the large
group insurance plans were not paying for any form of prescription birth
control. Only about a third of health insurance plans included oral
contraceptives in their prescription drug coverage. Most HMOs were covering the
pill when the suit was filed.
The debate became particularly charged, however, after the
introduction of Viagra, the male pill for erectile dysfunction, which some
In December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
declared that two employers violated the pregnancy discrimination law by
failing to cover contraceptives -- but including other preventive treatments --
in health insurance plans.
The EEOC said the 1978 law protects women against
discrimination because they have the ability to become pregnant, not just
because they are already pregnant.
Congress in 1998 required that health plans for federal
employees cover prescription contraceptives.
Erickson has said she became frustrated when she had to
constantly tell customers that they would have to pay for their birth control
pills -- because many other health plans, like her company's, don't cover
contraceptives -- though many do cover abortions and vasectomies.
Bartell, founded in 1890, had 48 stores in the Seattle area as
of last year and is the oldest family-owned drugstore chain in the nation.