TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner requiring health insurance coverage for contraceptives to include prescriptions for six months cleared the full Senate today, sending it to the governor’s desk.
The bill (S-659) would require health insurers that are currently required to cover prescription female contraceptives to provide that coverage for the dispensing of contraceptives for up to six months.
Under the bill, the coverage provided would include dispensing contraceptives for a three-month period for the first dispensing of the contraceptive, and a six-month period for any subsequent dispensing of the same contraceptive.
“The purpose of this bill is to increase access to birth control and by providing this six-month supply we will ensure that women can plan longer-term. Women today are often busy with work and managing child care, which makes picking up a monthly prescription impractical,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Women should have timely access to contraception in order to protect their health, plan their families and their future and this is a bill that will help with that effort.”
Currently, many health insurance companies limit their coverage, without cost-sharing, of birth control to a one- or three-month supply. This can lead to unwanted gaps in birth control use and an increased incidence of unintended pregnancies. Inadequate supplies of birth control are of particular concern for low- and middle-income women who may have unpredictable work hours, difficulty accessing transportation, or other barriers preventing them from getting to a pharmacy.
According to Guttmacher Institute, unintended pregnancy rates are highest among poor and low-income women, women aged 18–24. Approximately half of unintended pregnancies are among women who were not using contraception at the time they became pregnant; the other half are among women who became pregnant despite reported use of contraception.
S-659, which includes recommendations contained in a conditional veto to make the time period for a subsequent prescription six months, rather than 12 months, was approved by the Senate by a vote of 36-2. The Assembly approved it 60-2-6 in July.