Contraceptive Coverage in Washington State’s Qualified Health Plans (2015)
A Secret Shopper Survey and Review of Carrier Filings and Formularies
Contraception is the single most common preventive care prescription for women of childbearing age. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods without costs.
A report authored by Northwest Health Law Advocates, with assistance from NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, examines whether insurance companies selling health plans through the online marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder, are complying with the ACA's contraceptive coverage requirement. The report finds that insurance companies have misinformed women about expanded access to free birth control. The report is based on the findings of a "secret shopper" survey, a review of carriers' formularies and insurance form filings, and follow up communications with each insurance carrier.
We are pleased that Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is acting on the concerns raised in our report and is supporting improvements that benefit women seeking coverage. After reviewing the draft report, the Commissioner convened a meeting with the authors and issuers to discuss the findings. We are encouraged by the responses of some carriers indicating they plan to provide training to customer services representatives assisting women and urge them to do so promptly. Some carriers have also agreed to revise their formularies and insurance filings with the Commissioner as we recommended.
Work remains to be done to assure that Washington women reap the full benefit of the ACA's contraceptive coverage requirement. NoHLA and NARAL recommend additional steps for each carrier to take to implement this requirement. We will continue to monitor the carriers' progress.