Introduction to Contraceptive Equity

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Introduction to Contraceptive Equity

Healthcare is a costly, yet highly valued resource for most people. There are few things in life that people value more than their health and well being. While most medical insurance plans can agree on coverage that protects people in the case that they contract a life threatening disease, or are severely injured, there exist many gray areas in healthcare that are covered on a case by case, company by company, basis. One of these gray areas can be found in the area of reproductive health, and contraceptive equity.

Most women are currently denied prescription insurance coverage for contraceptives. At the same time, in recent years insurance companies have opted to cover drugs like Viagra, which is a sex enhancing drug for men. Many women would be appalled if they made this realization. As a result of this inequality in coverage, there has emerged a call for growing attention to be placed in the area of contraceptive equity in recent years.

The idea of what's come to be called "contraceptive equity" wasn't even on the national agenda until 1996, when Viagra came along. Within seven weeks of that drug's approval by the FDA, more than 90 percent of insurance plans covered it. The birth- control pill, in comparison, had been around for more than 40 years - but was not included in most American insurance plans (Marks, 2003, Introduction Section Paragraph 5).

Insurance plans should treat contraceptives the same as other prescriptions in order to maintain equal treatment between men and women, yet they often do not. This is due to a number of factors that range from economics, to history, to religion, and social views. Excluding one form of coverage for reproductive health in favor of anot...

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...amental change is occurring at the state level in many state governments. Legislators are seeing the inherent unfairness in a system that provides coverage to promote sexual health and cure sexual dysfunctions for men without providing equal coverage for pregnancy prevention for women. Currently, there are 22 states that have contraceptive equity laws.

Insufficient and inequitable coverage of women’s health services has a long history in the United States. It is important to recognize that no matter where one’s views fall politically or socially, America has some of the highest unintended pregnancy rates in the industrialized world. To continue to progress as a society, it is important to advocate for women’s health issues and gender equality. Gender based inequalities in health care will continue to create division, unless we create equitable policy.

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