Your health insurance coverage in Pennsylvania will cover women’s birth control and other reproductive expenses in 2012. Starting next August, thanks to the “Affordable Care Act, health insurers will be forced to provide many additional preventive services at no cost or copay to their policyholders. Some of these services include breastfeeding support and sexually-transmitted disease counseling. Typically, these services are not covered on conventional private policies, or deductibles and/or copays must be met.
And guess who might pay for these services? You. Exchange Health rates in Pennsylvania will probably increase, as the insurers pass the cost to the consumers. Preventive benefits are important for men and women, and medical plans should cover most of these expenses. But paying for birth control is going a bit too far, and is actually forbidden, for religious reasons, to many Keystone State residents.
Vovering the “morning after pill” was also a very controversial decision made by the Obama administration. So was Obama’s announcement that he now supports gay marriages. (By the way, I do not have strong feelings for either side on these controversial subjects). This “flip-flop,” is, of course, not unusual with politicians, including Obama and several of his predecessors.
Did he change his views for political reasons? I’ll assume that was not the reason. But the addition of a benefit such as this will ultimately cost millions of dollars of out of pocket cost to many persons that don’t even need or use birth control (perhaps a couple in their 60s). Many corporations will undoubtedly fight implementation if forced to offer this benefit to their employees.
Regardless of whether you practice (or don’t practice) birth control, it seems a bit odd that the federal government is forcing insurance carriers to cover this. It’s not an option. It’s the law. You begin to wonder what will be next. Mandatory replacement of toothbrushes every 60 days? Required earmuffs for residents of Allegheny County? Forced eating of broccoli on Tuesdays? I think I would move out of state if that last one happened! Yes, these are tongue and cheek examples, but there are many surprises.
Female Rates Likely To Rise
The groups of insureds that are likely to see the biggest increases are females between the ages of 15 and 50, although the amount of the increase will vary, depending on the company. I believe the increases will be in the 2%-7% range. But that is my opinion. It could end up being closer to 9%.
This does not include the overall price change of implementing Obamacare. This will result in increases of 25%-85%, depending where you live and your income. The less money you make, the higher the subsidy you will receive from the government.
For example, a family of four making $40,000 per year may receive up to $12,000 per year of free money in the form of tax credits. A family of four making $100,000 will receive nothing. Since this may not be sustainable, there could be changes to this formula in the future. Families with many children will receive very large subsidy assistance.
Impact On Maternity
But one of the unintended consequences of this change could be positive. Maternity health insurance rates should reduce, since it’s safe to assume the number of unplanned pregnancies will decrease. Highmark, Keystone (Independence Blue Cross) and Aetna offer maternity benefits in many of their plans, so we’ll monitor the rates when all of these changes transpire. It may take a few years to digest all of the new information.
UnitedHealthcare and HealthAmerica do not offer maternity options or riders, so it will be interesting to see if they will add this coverage to their Pa portfolio. Actually, UnitedHealthcare offered a maternity coverage rider for many years, but suspended the product in 2010. However, when the Pa Exchange becomes effective in 2014, maternity will be mandated and required on all policies. This will be help many consumers, but also raise the rate for persons that don’t intend on using it. And since it’s now the law, you will have to keep it on your plan.
We update daily any rate or coverage change on our website. So feel free to view current rates. We’ll assist in the application process and don’t worry…you never pay any fees. In 2014, if/when “Exchanges” become available, we’ll help you choose the best plan options for you and your family needs.
November 2014 – Although a very contentious issue, birth control is still covered. And the abortion issue, as expected, is also a very controversial topic when discussing if a specific plan is paying for the procedure. Many employers have challenged part of the ACA legislation requiring them to provide certain benefits to their workers.
December 2016 – The status of coverage has not changed, and the new initiatives expected to be introduced by President-elect Trump are not expected to eliminate the coverage.