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St. Paul, Minnesota – Today, DFL legislators introduced the “Contraceptive Equity Act," requiring Minnesota health plans providing prescription drug coverage to cover contraception without charging a co-pay. Passage of such legislation would make Minnesota the 29th state to enact such a prescription equity law, alongside neighboring states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois.
“This is a basic issue of ensuring we have an equitable health care system that represents the needs of all Minnesotans,” said. Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL – St. Paul). “Covering contraception without cost sharing smartly confronts cost as a barrier for Minnesota women accessing effective health care.”
The bill would allow a religious exemption for faith-based organizations to directly provide such coverage, but would instead require health plans to provide contraception coverage directly to the employee. Legislators say this is an important step forward in addressing the gender disparities that exist in our health care system.
“Contraception is something that both women and men use, however, women, unfairly, bear a significant chunk of the cost,” said Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL – St. Paul). “Women on average spend 68 percent more on out-of-pocket health care costs than men, which is due in part to contraceptive costs.”
The high cost of contraceptives is a major barrier for women in accessing them. Despite that 99% of women use contraception at some point in their lives, more than half of women between the ages of 18-34 struggles to afford it. It’s estimated that, including doctor’s visits, oral contraceptives can cost $1,210 a year without insurance.
Introduction of this legislation comes at a time when contraception coverage has been the subject of political debate and inflammatory remarks by conservative pundits. Rep. Murphy hopes that in introducing, and eventually passing this bill, a clear message will be sent to women in Minnesota, that they will have fair access to basic health care needs and relieved of burdens that may impact their ability to be prosperous.
“Over the past several weeks, both nationally and in other states, we have seen repeated attacks on access to basic health care for women,” said Murphy. “We are here to say not in Minnesota.”
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