Introduction to Contraceptive Equity
Healthcare is a costly, yet highly valued resource for most people. There are few things in life that people value more than their health and well being. While most medical insurance plans can agree on coverage that protects people in the case that they contract a life threatening disease, or are severely injured, there exist many gray areas in healthcare that are covered on a case by case, company by company, basis. One of these gray areas can be found in the area of reproductive health, and contraceptive equity.
Most women are currently denied prescription insurance coverage for contraceptives. At the same time, in recent years insurance companies have opted to cover drugs like Viagra, which is a sex enhancing drug for men. Many women would be appalled if they made this realization. As a result of this inequality in coverage, there has emerged a call for growing attention to be placed in the area of contraceptive equity in recent years.
The idea of what's come to be called "contraceptive equity" wasn't even on the national agenda until 1996, when Viagra came along. Within seven weeks of that drug's approval by the FDA, more than 90 percent of insurance plans covered it. The birth- control pill, in comparison, had been around for more than 40 years - but was not included in most American insurance plans (Marks, 2003, Introduction Section Paragraph 5).
Insurance plans should treat contraceptives the same as other prescriptions in order to maintain equal treatment between men and women, yet they often do not. This is due to a number of factors that range from economics, to history, to religion, and social views. Excluding one form of coverage for reproductive health in favor of another which negatively impacts women over men should create concern.
As with many policies economics is a crucial element when looking at contraceptive equity. Balancing the needs of individuals and businesses is a constant struggle from a health care point of view. In the past contraceptives have not been looked as a healthcare necessity but studies have shown the opposite. The need for contraceptive coverage has affected social policy.
The economy has a clear and direct link to transform social policy. According to Blau (2004) “…in the U.S. economy, the goods that the less affluent cannot purchase include many necessities, such as food, housing, and health care. When this deficiency becomes especially severe, policymakers often try to compensate for it by modifying old social policies or introducing new ones” (p. 14). Policymakers are taking notice of how the lack of contraceptive coverage affects the economy. Many women within the reproductive age bracket that don’t have insurance are more at risk for unintended pregnancy and it is likely that women may increasingly not use a contraceptive method. Kaunitz, A., & Shields, W. (2005) stated “financial concerns may cause women to forgo use of...