Governor Shapiro Advocates for Broader Access to Contraception in Pennsylvania

Governor Josh ShapiroCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has called on health insurers across the state to broaden access to contraception, including the newly approved over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pill, Opill. This move, aimed at making contraception more accessible and affordable, could potentially save Pennsylvania women nearly $250 annually.

Announcing new guidance on insurance coverage Monday, Governor Shapiro emphasized the critical role of birth control in providing women with autonomy over their bodies and life choices. The guidance encourages insurers to cover OTC contraceptives, with or without a prescription, and to streamline the process for medication exceptions, ensuring that financial barriers do not impede access to essential reproductive healthcare.

“For millions of women, birth control represents personal freedom and the ability to make choices over their own bodies. Now it’s time that insurance companies step up – I believe no one should be denied access to birth control because they can’t afford it,” Governor Shapiro remarked, underlining his administration’s commitment to reproductive health and affordability.

Should insurers opt out of covering OTC contraception, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) has been tasked with demanding explanations to ensure compliance with federal law. This directive underscores a proactive approach in scrutinizing health plans that may restrict access to contraceptive care, thereby reaffirming the state’s dedication to reproductive rights and healthcare accessibility.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys echoed this sentiment, highlighting both the national and state-level recognition of the need to improve contraceptive care access. “The U.S. Congress has identified opportunities for insurers to improve access to contraceptive care. PID, too, has identified that such opportunities exist among Pennsylvania’s health insurance plans. We can do better,” Humphreys stated, advocating for Pennsylvania to lead by example in covering OTC contraception as a best practice.

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The FDA’s recent approval of Opill, a norgestrel tablet, marks a milestone in contraceptive care, offering a viable option for women to purchase birth control without a prescription at various outlets, including drug stores and online platforms. With an approximate cost of $20 for a month’s supply, this initiative could significantly reduce financial barriers to contraception, particularly for those without insurance coverage.

As the Shapiro administration puts forth this guidance, the broader implications for women’s healthcare in Pennsylvania are profound. By facilitating easier access to contraception, the state not only advances reproductive rights but also promotes public health and economic well-being among its residents.

Individuals facing issues with their insurer or agent regarding this new guidance can seek assistance from the PID’s Consumer Services Bureau, ensuring that the path to reproductive healthcare remains clear and unobstructed. This initiative marks a critical step forward in safeguarding reproductive freedoms and enhancing healthcare access for all Pennsylvanians.

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