New State Guide On Insurance Coverage for Prescription Contraceptives
(Washington DC, 11/24/03): In addition to the state and federal laws against
sex discrimination in the workplace, 20 states have passed new laws that require
insurance companies to cover prescription contraceptives if they cover other
prescription drugs. To help women use these insurance laws to get coverage
for prescription contraceptives, the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) today
released a new consumer guide, Contraceptive Equity Laws in Your State: Know
Your Rights - Use Your Rights.
The 20 states that have these new insurance laws and are included in the guide
are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois,
Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico,
New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
The guide provides a state-by-state summary of the key provisions of the contraceptive
equity laws in the 20 states, procedures for filing a complaint if your insurance
company does not cover contraceptives, contact information for state insurance
departments and complaint forms. The online version of the guide, located at
provides direct links to facilitate filing a complaint electronically where
that service is available. Also, by calling NWLC's toll-free number, 1-866-Pill4Us,
or visiting www.nwlc.org/pill4us,
those seeking contraceptive coverage can obtain step-by-step assistance from
NWLC, request expert speakers for conferences and association meetings, order
the free guide, and learn more about their legal rights.
Susan (last name withheld), like millions of women, had a problem. Her employer,
Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, did not provide insurance coverage for
prescription contraceptives, so Susan paid for them out-of-pocket. Even though
the hospital covered other prescription drugs and preventative care, Susan's
frustration grew because this omission seemed so unfair. Susan asked her employer
to provide the insurance coverage, but when she hit a wall, she contacted the
NWLC through its website. After NWLC attorneys wrote to Lenox Hill Hospital
and let it know that its failure to cover prescription contraceptives was illegal
under federal and state laws against sex discrimination in employment, the hospital
agreed to add the coverage. Employees were informed of the coverage change
"Susan's story proves that women can take an active role in getting their employers
to include coverage of prescription contraceptives as part of their health plans.
Like many employers, Lenox Hill Hospital did the right thing when it became
aware of the inequality in men's and women's health benefits," said Judith C.
Appelbaum, NWLC Vice President and Legal Director.
"Access to contraception is a central part of women's health care. It's essential
for women to know that there are new laws to help them get insurance coverage
for prescription contraceptives - and that we are here to help them understand
and exercise their rights," said Appelbaum.
The release of Contraceptive Equity Laws in Your State: Know Your Rights
- Use Your Rights marks the first time that information on every state contraceptive
equity law has been assembled in one place. Since the enforcement procedures
are not obvious or widely known, the guide will fill a gap for those seeking
to enforce their rights. www.nwlc.org/pill4us also
has available a user-friendly booklet, Take Action: Get Your Prescription
Contraceptives Covered, which includes materials workers can use to ask
their employers to cover prescription contraceptives in their health plans.
For additional information, please see "Coverage
of Contraceptives in Health Insurance: The Facts You Should Know".
The National Women's Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been
working since 1972 to advance and protect women's legal rights. The Center
focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including
economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention
given to the concerns of low-income women.
Created: 11/27/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.