Is free birth control in your future?

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- You may soon have free access to all birth control methods, after a Federal panel recommended the government require all health insurance companies to cover birth control, without any co-payments.

This could not only save you a lot of money, but some say it will help the high risk group, including teenagers, avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Kisha Buchanan, 23, describes birth control as a necessary cost every month. She said, "Birth control is like $80 a month, going on the NuvaRing."

Kisha feels teenagers and young women will get birth control, once cost is gone. "A lot of younger people don't want their parents to know they're having sex, so if it's free to them, they can go get it themselves and preventing teen pregnancy."

They're a part of a high risk group, along with college students, the Director of the Knox County Health Department hopes will make better choices. Dr. Martha Buchanan said, "We take down those barriers to access, we know more women are going to access health care and get that birth control, and plan their pregnancies."

The recommendation by the Institute of Medicine panel did not surprise OB/GYN Nikki Zite. She said, "It seems common sense that contraception is preventive care."

Dr. Zite said, "Medicaid pays for contraception already, so all those patients are already covered. This isn't actually something that's going to cost the government a whole lot more money."

Through UT Medical Center, Dr. Zite counsels women on their birth control options, including IUD's. The panel's reports says all forms of contraception should be covered by insurance.

Dr. Zite said, "For young, healthy women, almost 80-percent of their health care expenditures would be on contraceptive care."

Kisha hopes she won't have to shell out $80 a month anymore. "It will probably help out the government too, because we'll have less pregnancy and they don't have to pay as much in insurance and all that other stuff."

Right now about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so a decision is expected soon from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

There are several other preventative services the panel recommended, including support for breast-feeding mothers, domestic violence screening, and HIV screening. CLICK HERE to see the full report.


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