Biden officials remind insurers they must cover birth control for free

Biden administration officials on Thursday reminded insurers that they are legally required to cover contraception services at no cost.

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury issued guidance reminding them of the legal obligation under ObamaCare to provide contraceptive coverage for free.

Officials said the guidance was issued in response to increasing complaints from women and covered dependents about not receiving this coverage. During a briefing with reporters, administration officials would not give any specific examples, but said there are ongoing investigations. 

The guidance comes a month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and as the White House continues to fend off criticism from progressive Democrats that it is not doing enough to respond to the decision.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark 1965 case protecting access to contraceptives.

In all 50 states, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees coverage of women’s preventive services, including free birth control and contraceptive counseling, for individuals and covered dependents.

HHS said in 2020, the law provided 58 million women access to preventive services without cost sharing.

“With abortion care under attack, it is critical that we ensure birth control is accessible nationwide, and that employers and insurers follow the law and provide coverage for it with no additional cost,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. 

Advocates are concerned Republican legislatures emboldened by the decision overturning Roe could try to outlaw some emergency contraceptives such as Plan B and intrauterine devices, even though they are covered by the law’s mandate.

Democrats in Congress are also working to put Republicans on the record about contraception access. The House last week passed legislation ensuring people continue to have access to birth control, but a companion bill was blocked in the Senate.  

Last month,  Becerra, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen sent a letter to health insurers and employer health plan organizations, and the Departments convened a meeting with them, reminding executives of the industry’s obligations to provide free coverage for contraceptive services.