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In a recommendation with profound implications for the future of family planning in America, an Institute of Medicine panel has recommended that health insurance companies be required to cover birth control for women as a free preventive service without any required copay. If, as expected, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius approves the recommendations made by the panel, the requirement could go in to effect as part of the new health care law.
Medical experts believe that free access to contraceptive services would encourage women to use more reliable forms of long-acting birth control, such as implants or IUDs. As nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unwanted or unintended, the proposed requirement could make a significant contribution to lowering U.S. birth rates. It would also help women space their pregnancies apart, lowering the risks—to mother and child—associated with closely spaced births.
The recommendation was part of a larger package of eight recommendations relating to free preventive health care services.