IUD. Flickr photo

Protect Your Lady Parts From Trump — Get an IUD Before It’s Too Late!

They’re covered by Obamacare

by DARIEN CAVANAUGH

In just the first few days in office, Pres. Donald Trump has already issued a series of executive orders and made numerous other pledges that have sent Americans reeling.

His executive orders and presidential memorandums have covered everything from the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines to healthcare and draconian immigration regulations.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. Obamacare — has come under particularly intense attacks from both Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress. They seem determined to dismantle former president Barack Obama’s landmark legislation, a move that threatens the life and well-being of millions of America’s most vulnerable citizens.

No one, not even the Republicans, has a clear idea of what the ACA’s replacement might look like.

That’s making a lot of people uncomfortable who could not afford health insurance without the ACA. Losing access to affordable birth control is a major concern.

If Trump’s executive order to reinstate the “Mexico City Policy” — which prohibits the U.S. government from providing funding to foreign nongovernmental organizations that perform abortions or even offer information about them — or a recent Senate vote to strip the ACA of birth-control coverage are any indicator, then the ACA’s replacement probably will not be big on reproductive health benefits.

There is one way to ensure that you have affordable — essentially free —birth control for years to come even if the ACA is repealed. All health insurance plans offered through the federal marketplace cover all costs associated with an intrauterine device, or IUD. You don’t even have to pay a copay for the doctor’s visit, and you don’t have to meet your deductible first.

As an added bonus, an IUD could very well outlast the Trump presidency.

Despite free birth control being available through all ACA plans since the bill was signed into law in March of 2010, a lot of people still do not realize that IUDs are fully covered under their insurance plan.

I was a licensed insurance agent until last year, and I always mentioned IUDs to people who asked about birth control coverage. I cannot recall a single instance in which the client wasn’t surprised to learn that IUDs are fully covered.

It is perfectly reasonable to assume that IUDs might not be covered the same way that birth control pills or barrier methods are covered because IUDs require a medical procedure, which would normally have considerable costs associated with it. There also has not been a concerted effort to make the public aware that IUDs are covered under the ACA.

The ACA, however, does not distinguish between birth control methods in regards to coverage. If a method is FDA-approved, it is fully covered under all ACA plans offered through the marketplace.

“Plans in the health insurance marketplace must cover contraceptive methods and counseling for all women, as prescribed by a health care provider,” the Healthcare.gov page on birth control benefits explains. “Plans must cover these services without charging a copayment or coinsurance when provided by an in-network provider — even if you haven’t met your deductible.”

The full list of birth-control methods currently covered under all ACA plans includes:

  • Barrier methods, such as diaphragms and sponges
  • Hormonal methods, such as birth control pills and vaginal rings
  • Implanted devices, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  • Emergency contraception, such as Plan B and ella
  • Sterilization procedures
  • Patient education and counseling

For those in need of affordable birth control, the part about copays, coinsurance and deductibles is crucial, especially in regards to having an IUD implanted. The implant procedure can cost up to $1,000 or more without insurance coverage, but, again, is totally free under the Affordable Care Act. You shouldn’t even have to pay the copay for the doctor’s visit.

“I was overjoyed to find that my insurance fully covers an IUD, and then I realized that I was rejoicing about something that should be a given, not a luxury — but it sure feels like one,” Amy Caffee, a mother of two from Charleston, South Carolina, wrote in a Facebook post.

Caffee confirmed to DEFIANT that there is no copay or coinsurance related to the implant procedure under her ACA plan. She also noted that you can receive the implant on the same day you have your initial consultation.

The Planned Parenthood website provides an abundance of general information about IUDs, as well as information on the process for having an IUD implanted, what to expect afterwards and how IUD removals work.

The cost of removal is also fully covered under the ACA. However, if the law is repealed, some insurance plans may not cover that expense in the future.

Planned Parenthood offers IUD removals on a sliding scale based on income. That could be an affordable option for having an IUD removed should the ACA be fully repealed or stripped of the birth control benefits down the road.

As Planned Parenthood points out, an IUD can last for up to 12 years. That gives IUD users a long time to plan ahead for the removal or replacement.

That’s also long after Trump himself will have been replaced.

“I just love the idea of a single B.C. device that will outlast Trump,” one Facebook user commented on Caffee’s post. “Poetic, really.”

Of course there are always potential risks with any medical procedure or implant. An IUD may not be an ideal option for everyone, but if the ACA is going to be repealed, which looks very probable, then it might be an option for the those who feel comfortable with it and whose healthcare providers recommend it.

If you don’t currently have health insurance coverage, you have until Jan. 31, 2017 to enroll in an ACA plan during the open-enrollment period. After that, you may be eligible for a “special enrollment” if you experience certain life-changing events, such as moving to a different zip code, losing your coverage from an employer or getting married or divorced.

There are affordable, or even free, plans available for people who need assistance paying for their health insurance, especially for those with incomes in the $13,000 to $20,000 range. People earning less may be eligible for Medicaid or other programs in their state.

For instance, a 25-year-old woman living in Tampa, Florida and earning $15,000 a year can get insurance coverage through the federal marketplace starting at around $3 per month.

All coverage begins on day one, so you can get an IUD as soon as your coverage kicks in. There are no waiting periods for any services covered under the ACA.

There are a couple of exceptions and potential obstacles to keep in mind though. Some group plans were grandfathered in under the Affordable Care Act and are not required to cover all of the same services as Marketplace plans. IUDs might not be covered under such plans. You’ll want to check with your insurance provider or human resources representative for details.

Insurance companies also still have a tendency to reject claims that they are required to cover under the ACA. As an insurance agent, I spent a lot of time on the phone making three-way calls between clients and insurance providers’ customer service representatives. The customer service representatives often did not realize, or at least pretended not to realize, that providers were mandated by law to cover certain things.

As an agent, I could sometimes talk the customer service representatives through the issue and get the claim processed. Other times, I would have to call a broker representative to have the matter addressed. Broker representatives only speak with insurance agents and brokers, and are far more familiar with the details of the ACA. They also want agents to keep enrolling people in their company’s policies, so they tend to be very helpful in sorting out claims.

If you have an issue with an insurance provider not wanting to process a claim for an IUD, or any other benefit that should be covered, contact your insurance agent, human resources representative or healthcare provider. They know the law, and they know how to talk to insurance providers. They speak the same language.

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