Is birth control a form of preventive care?

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Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive services are defined as care which can help the individual avoid illness and improve their health. Under the Act, preventive services will be available no additional cost to the individual.

Senator Barbara Mikulski, who wrote the women's health amendment, said the intent was to include family planning.

A panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine whom will advise the government is scheduled to hold its first meeting on November 16th. This panel will help define preventive care for women and whether birth control falls within the definition of preventive care.

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Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services list for preventive services specially for women does not include birth control or family planning. It does include screening mammograms, BRCA genetic counseling, breast feeding support, and osteoporosis screening.

But is birth control preventive medicine?

It depends on who is asked. Whereas medical and public health experts feel there’s no debate, U.S. Catholic bishops and the conservative Family Research Council disagree.

As recently as the 1990s, many health-insurance plans didn’t even cover birth control. Today, almost all plans cover prescription contraceptives including Medicaid.

The panel will hold its first meeting Nov. 16 to begin work on recommendations to the Health and Human Services Department. The department has until August to make its decision.

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