Birth control coverage


Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Thanks for your coverage of the Rally for Women's Health last week. It was great to see the Alaska Senate rally to support a bill to study pay equity for women in the work force. Sadly, there's another bill languishing in its first committee of referral that would do more than just study equity. In December 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, our federal watchdog for discrimination, ruled that if your employer's prescription insurance plan covers prevention drugs, then it must also cover prescription birth control, too.

It's about time. Did you know the insurance industry also had to be forced into covering pregnancies? It took countless lawsuits prior to 1978 to force them to cover childbirth and 23 years later it's a lawsuit forcing them to pay for pregnancy prevention. Why? Because the insurance companies figure women will pay for it anyway. I called all 11 of the insurance companies regulated by Alaska's Division of Insurance, and discovered that only one covers birth control. Sadly, eight of the companies cover Viagra, which is a drug specifically for men.

The Alaska Legislature can really do something about sex discrimination. They can pass Senate Bill 15 or a similar bill if introduced in the House, which will bring insurance companies in line with the December 2000 EEOC ruling. Please call your legislators in support.

Diana Rhoades


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