Happy New Year – Washington Health Insurers Are Now Required to Expand Contraceptive Coverage

In 2019, Washington health insurers are required to expand contraceptive coverage. Any health plan in Washington issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1 must now provide coverage for the following:

  • All FDA-approved contraceptives, including drugs and devices; and
  • Voluntary sterilization procedures.

The new law also requires coverage for consultations, examinations and procedures necessary to obtain contraceptives or voluntary sterilization.  Importantly, most health insurers are now prohibited from imposing copayments, deductables, or other cost sharing on contraceptive coverage.

The law also broadly prohibits insurers from limiting insureds’ access to contraceptives.  For instance, insurers may no longer deny contraceptive coverage because the insured changed contraceptives recently.

Washington’s legislature enacted the expanded coverage requirements in order to guarantee equal access to reproductive health benefits and services.  The new law notes:

Neither a woman’s income level nor her type of insurance should prevent her from having access to a full range of reproductive health care, including contraception and abortion services;…Restrictions and barriers to health coverage for reproductive health care have a disproportionate impact on low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women, and these women are often already disadvantaged in their access to the resources, information, and services necessary to prevent an unintended pregnancy or to carry a healthy pregnancy to term;…Existing state and federal law should be enhanced to ensure greater contraceptive coverage and timely access for all individuals covered by health plans in Washington to all methods of contraception approved by the federal food and drug administration;…

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