Contraceptive equity is a policy framework under which contraceptive care is easily accessible and covered at no cost in all health programs. It is of paramount importance because of the critical role that family planning plays in improving health outcomes and economic security, and because of the historically inadequate coverage of comprehensive birth control services.
State laws ensuring contraceptive coverage, often referred to as Contraceptive Equity laws, can play a critical role in filling the remaining gaps from the Affordable Care Act and accompanying federal guidance, and have the potential to expand equitable access to contraceptive services for women and men. State contraceptive equity laws are intended to ensure that low-income individuals gain access to comprehensive reproductive care. ACA marketplace insurance plans must comply with both state and federal contraceptive coverage laws, including state laws that mandate a higher level of benefits.
The latest wave of enacting contraceptive contraception coverage laws began in California in 2014, with legislation sponsored by the National Health Law Program and Essential Access Health. In the wake of enactment of that bill, the National Health Law Program created a Model Contraceptive Equity Act that has since been used to introduce similar legislation in 38 jurisdictions and enact versions in 13 states and Washington, D.C. as of 2018. The Model Act prevents insurers from using medical management techniques, like cost-sharing, prior authorization, prescription requirements, gender restrictions, or quantity limitations, to erect access barriers.