As a physician who cares for Connecticut women’s reproductive health needs, I urge the Connecticut State General Assembly to pass the HB 5210, an Act Mandating Insurance Coverage of Essential Health Benefits and Expanding Mandated Health Benefits for Women, Children and Adolescents. This bill would require private insurance plans available in Connecticut to cover specific preventative services, including contraception, for women without added cost to policy-holders. Women should have access to preventative care regardless of action in Washington, D.C. and we in Connecticut can and must protect this essential care for the women of our state.
Since the Affordable Care Act required this coverage, 746,444 Connecticut women have gained access to no copay birth control in the private insurance market. Prior to this coverage, women paid more out of pocket than men for healthcare and often were unable to afford the most effective methods of contraception.
Contraception is a vital component of women’s reproductive health and the social advancement of women. It enables women to avoid pregnancy when they wish to focus on school and career, empowering them economically and allowing them to contribute to our state’s economic growth. For women who wish to be become parents, contraception allows them to plan their pregnancies at the best time for their lives and health, making pregnancy healthier for women and their newborns. For women with medical conditions that would make pregnancy dangerous, contraception protects their health and lives. Further, some women need contraception for its other health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of certain reproductive cancers or treating menstrual problems.
Other states have passed similar legislation or made regulatory changes that protect access to this vital care: New York, Vermont, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oregon. As a state with a long and proud history of championing the health and rights of women, we must join these other states to keep women and families healthy in Connecticut.
Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine.