Insurance doesn't cover newer reproductive health options

September 1, 2004



Compared to traditional methods of contraception such as birth control pills, newer reproductive health options—including patches, rings, and new sterilization methods—are poorly covered by insurance companies, according to a survey of 250 benefits managers in midsize and large companies nationwide.

The survey found that while 89% of companies provide coverage of reversible contraception through their insurance plans, the level of coverage depends on the type of contraception. More than 80% of insurers provide partial or full coverage of oral contraceptives. In contrast, newer products such as the patch (59% reported coverage), Nuva Ring or diaphragms (54%), contraceptive injections (51%), and emergency contraception (18%) had lower rates of coverage.

When it comes to permanent contraception options for women, 54% of respondents reported that tubal ligation was covered by their insurer. Just 36% could make the same claim for hysteroscopic sterilization.

In addition, the survey found that only 28% of insurers provided coverage for in vitro fertilization. A slightly lower rate of coverage was found for ovulation induction drugs and procedures, artificial insemination, and uterine arterial embolization (26% each). Less than a quarter of companies (22%) said their insurer covered myomectomies.

The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and was sponsored by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the Black Women's Health Imperative, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.