NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Employment Commission (EEOC) Mandates Contraceptives Coverage By Health Plans

December 15, 2000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has entered a controversy concerning employers' health plans by ruling prescription contraceptives -- such as birth control pills, injections and intra-uterine devices -- must be covered. To avoid violating the law, employers must cover expenses "to the same extent, and on the same terms as they cover...other drugs and devices," the EEOC said.

The issue has been a contentious one for years, especially since the advent of the impotence treatment drug Viagra, which some employers would pay for while not covering contraceptives for women. Coverage for contraceptives varies.

  • About 87 percent of employers with HMO plans include coverage of the birth-control pill.
  • However, coverage drops to as low as 60 percent among firms with other types of health insurance.
  • Far fewer offer coverage for other types of prescription contraceptives.
  • Oral contraceptives cost about $350 a year; health insurers charge employers about $1.43 a month per employee for contraceptive coverage.

In making its ruling, the EEOC said employers' refusal to pay for contraceptives is discriminatory. However, John Emling of the National Federation of Independent Business called the ruling another mandate that will drive up costs.

Source: Julie Appleby, "Employer Health Plans Must Cover Cost of Contraceptives, USA Today, December 15, 2000.


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