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Would The AHCA Cover Male Contraceptives?

by Kenza Moller

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must currently cover all doctor-prescribed contraceptive methods for women, from sponges and diaphragms to IUDs and Plan B, without charging women extra for their birth control. Under Obamacare, however, male contraceptives — such as condoms and vasectomies — were not covered by insurance. Now that the American Health Care Act has passed the House of Representatives, some are wondering how contraceptive coverage might change if the AHCA gets instated. Would male contraceptives be covered under the AHCA?

So far, it doesn't look like male contraceptives would be added to the AHCA's list of essential health benefits. Not that that would matter much, since Trumpcare, if passed, would allow states to opt out of mandated essential care. States' ability to opt out of essential benefits would mean that the same birth control that insurers had to cover under Obamacare could now cost women money or raise their premiums. That includes all forms of birth control currently covered, including the birth control pill, sterilization procedures, IUDs, emergency contraception, and vaginal rings.

Not only that, but the AHCA would also make it more difficult for women to get abortions. Drugs that induce abortion are not part of the ACA's essential health benefits, but plenty of plans still offer it (although health care plans that both receive subsidies and offer abortion must do so in a way in which federal funds are not used for abortion, despite the fact that federal funds have never been allowed for abortion unless the life of the mother were at risk or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest). The AHCA, however, would not allow tax credits to be spent on any health care plans that cover abortion, making them much more difficult to access.

The AHCA would also allow states to waive pre-existing protections, meaning insurers' previous lists of pre-existing conditions could come back. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in the time before Obamacare, insurers' lists of declinable conditions frequently included pregnancy, and people could be turned away if they were using Clomid, a fertility medication that often popped up on declinable medication lists.

As many have noticed, on the other hand, erectile dysfunction is not a declinable condition on most insurers' lists, despite Viagra's usual cost of $22 a pill. According to J-STOR, in fact, the majority of insurance plans have traditionally covered drugs for erectile dysfunction, including those for prostate issues and — less frequently — penile implants.

So while men likely won't be gaining access to contraceptives, and women could easily lose their birth control coverage and access to abortion, don't worry: men will likely still be able to have their erectile dysfunction treatment covered, even if some women lose their ability to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.