Plan B Is Now Free in Maryland

MAY 12, 2016
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
A first-of-its-kind law in Maryland requires health insurers to completely cover the cost of emergency contraception.
Beyond providing free Plan B, which has been available OTC for women of all ages nationwide since 2013, Maryland’s Contraceptive Equity Act contains provisions aimed at expanding birth control access for women looking to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The law also:
·      Prohibits co-pays for most contraception.
·      Allows women to get 6 months’ worth of birth control at a time.
·      Eliminates preauthorization requirements for long-acting reversible contraception, such as intrauterine devices.
·      Requires OTC access to contraceptives without a prescription.
Notably, the law requires health insurers to completely cover the cost of vasectomies for men who seek them. Female sterilization was already completely covered in the state.
Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery), who is largely credited for shepherding the bill through the legislature, wrote in a blog post that the initiative was born from her frustration over the Planned Parenthood funding debates last summer.
“I decided to do something positive,” she wrote. “This legislation makes Maryland first in the nation in access to birth control.”
On its website, Planned Parenthood touts the law as an “innovative bill that closes gaps in contraception coverage in insurance plans and Medicaid.”
Although the Affordable Care Act already requires health insurers nationwide to cover at least 1 method in each of the FDA’s 18 categories of contraception methods without co-pays, Maryland’s law mandates complete coverage of all forms of birth control, so women in the state may obtain the best method and formulation for them.
Importantly, health insurers will retain the right to collect a co-pay on 1 birth control product if another product is essentially identical but more expensive.
Maryland’s law comes as a growing number of states are passing or considering legislation to expand access to birth control, including California, Oregon, New Jersey, and Tennessee, among others.
Maryland’s Contraceptive Equity Act will take effect on January 1, 2018.