$1.4 billion. That’s how much the birth control benefit saved women in the United States in 2013.
Wait, no, I got that wrong. That’s actually how much women in the United States saved on birth control pills alone in 2013. The patch users? The IUD devotees? The trans-men and gender non-conforming folks? Their savings aren’t even included in that already eye-popping figure.
And the Trump administration is all set to take it away. A leaked draft of a proposed regulation has been circulating for a couple of weeks now, and if it’s enacted, it will have serious consequences for anyone who depends on birth control.
The current policy allows some religious employers to opt out of providing coverage, requiring them to notify the government of their objection. In those cases, insurers currently provide the benefit directly to the users. Even so, more than 120 companies are currently suing over the rule. They object to the notification requirement, arguing that it triggers a process that results in their employees gaining access to birth control, which somehow still makes the employer complicit in an act they regard as sinful. (Brief digression: This is a dumb argument, since if you follow that logic, things like, I don’t know, paying their employees’ salaries also makes them complicit in whatever sinful acts those employees spend that money on, but whatever.)
The proposed regulation would eliminate the notification aspect of the rule, and would vastly expand the availability of the exemption. Essentially, any company would be able to claim a religious or moral objection to birth control, and their claim would be automatically accepted.
What does this mean?
Basically: if your boss decides not to cover birth control, you can’t use your insurance to get it, so you have to pay the full cost out of pocket. That’s bad enough for the Pill, but for things like IUDs with their high up-front costs, it will effectively shut down access.
At least there’s always Planned Parenthood. Oh, wait…