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How College Students Can Access Contraception Without Cost-Sharing

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Hundreds of activists gathered in front of the Supreme Court building to rally and show their support for the Affordable Care Act during the second day of hearings regarding the law.

CREDIT: David Sachs / SEIU

Earlier this month, a regulation that implements part of the Affordable Care Act took effect, ensuring that women have coverage without cost sharing for a wide range of recommended preventive services. Many of these services are especially important to improve women’s health, especially young women. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 47 million women with private health insurance will receive these recommended services without cost sharing.

The requirement applies to both group and individual new health insurance plans,[1] and because student health plans are categorized under the Affordable Care Act as a type of individual health insurance, these plans will be subject to the requirement. The preventive services requirement, which includes contraception, says that insurance companies will have to cover preventive services with no cost-sharing for plan years that start on or after Aug. 1, 2012. Because college health insurance plan years tend to start in August—as opposed to employer-sponsored plans, which often begin in January—students will be among the first beneficiaries of this requirement.[2]

Due to limited regulation of student health plans, each institution operates differently. So while guidelines are offered below, check with your university to find out exactly how your student health plan operates.

What can I get without cost sharing? (Services with * will be available without cost-sharing for new plans beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2012. Services without * were already available without a co-pay under Obamacare.

How do I access these preventive services?

What if I am refused birth control, emergency contraception, or other preventive services without cost-sharing?

Note: You are also eligible to stay on a parent’s health insurance plan until you are 26 thanks to the Affordable Care Act. However, if your parents are opposed to contraception or you’d rather they not know what services you are receiving, keep in mind that your privacy may not be protected in billing statements or other insurance documents. Also, students will be eligible to purchase insurance in the new state-based health insurance markets known as exchanges beginning in 2014. For more information, click here.

Elizabeth Rich is an intern with the Center for American Progress, our parent organization.

For more information, visit the links below:

More information on the preventive services required under the Affordable Care Act: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/07/preventive-services-list.html; http://healthreform.kff.org/notes-on-health-insurance-and-reform/2012/february/insurance-coverage-of-contraceptives.aspx; http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/08/20110801b.html/


[1] Health plans that existed before the Affordable Care Act was passed are grandfathered under the law and not subject to this requirement. Check with your plan to find out if it is grandfathered.

[2] Only students at secular schools will be guaranteed no-cost coverage for contraception this year. Because religiously-affiliated colleges and universities that object to contraception can opt for a one-year waiver, students at schools that take the waiver will have to wait until August 1, 2013, after which point they will receive coverage for birth control directly from the insurer.

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