Reality Check: Truth About Insurance And Birth Control

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota doesn’t require insurance companies to fully cover contraceptives.

But the state does require those companies operating in Minnesota to offer more specific benefits than almost anywhere else in the country.

The truth: Insurance companies operating in Minnesota are required by law to cover at least 28 separate benefits, eight types of patients and 13 different health care professions. That’s the sixth highest number of mandates in the country.

Here’s what you need to know: Minnesota lawmakers order insurance companies to cover certain medical procedures when they believe the companies won’t. That includes prenatal care, minimum maternity stays, cervical cancer treatments, mammograms and prostate cancer screening.

But it’s not the whole story. Minnesota also covers medical conditions other states do not, such as Lyme disease treatment, scalp prostheses (wigs) for alopecia patients, complications from breast implants and port wine birthmark removal.

Ordering insurance companies operating in Minnesota to fully pay for the estimated $1,200 annual cost of contraception may be controversial, but it is not uncommon.

As many as 28 states already do it now, including Iowa and Wisonsin.

That’s a Reality Check, and here are the sources used for this Reality Check.

Minnesota State Healthcare Mandates
Legislator Introduces Contraceptive Bill
Health Insurance Mandates By State
Birth Control Coverage By State
Port Wine Stain
Cranial Prostheses
Lyme Disease Treatment
Complications From Breast Implants
Health Insurance Mandates And Premiums

More from Pat Kessler
  • angry Minnesotan

    “As many as 28 states already do it now” and without even looking it up I can say “as few as one other require it.” What a garbage blanket statemetn trying to elicit a response. Pat, you truly are slipping in senility. Is that covered in your health coverage?

    • PO'd Minnesotan

      >“as few as one other require it.”

      Is English your second language? Is it covered in your insurance program?

  • Brett

    Yet another article from Pat full of half-truths and unrelated health anomalies, most of which have origins in the personal decision of people trying to make themselves look better.

    Being fertile is not a disease or illness, and the Pill is not the ONLY option for preventing pregnancy.

    Yet another PHONY arguement to jack up healthcare costs for ALL because some are too CHEAP to pay for it themselves, or make better decisions.

    • Sue

      Well said Brett

    • PO'd Minnesotan

      >Yet another article from Pat full of half-truths

      Love the proof.

      Typical of all critics to never prove their very own claims.

      >the Pill is not the ONLY option for preventing pregnancy.

      And has other benefits as well–what you just gave is a half-truth.

    • Paul Solinger

      Name one “half-truth” from this article.

      Also, taking the pill is not ONLY done to prevent pregnancy. There are plenty of other medically necessary reasons for taking a birth control pill.’

      What this is really about is men trying to control women. It’s really sad that women like “Sue” are fully supportive of that.

  • Big Insurance

    No big deal.

    We’ll just increase the premiums on all the women we insure.

    Because that’s the way insurance works.

    • Brett

      Unfortunately, that’s not the way health insurance works. It’s not like an auto policy, where you are rated based on your driving history. In the health insurance environment, the additional COSTS get spread out across ALL of the insured, because it’s a “group rate” system. So, 70% percent or so who rarely see a doctor pay for the 30% or so who run up astronomical health care bills, and the only thing that changes is that health care premiums continue to SKYROCKET.

      • What?

        Typically Brett, family planning can and should be a male issue too–the chick just gulps down the pill. Same as pregnancy. There is no such thing as an imaculate conception. So, yep….the guys need to pay the premiums right along with the gals. This isn’t an issue of he or she. This is an issue of the “we” and since I see alot of people out there that I don’t think should have kids but do, I’m willing to pass out the pills like candy and not mind one bit that it may cost me an extra buck a month on my premium.

        • Uncle_Rico

          I don’t know a single guy that doesn’t want to be able to take a pill himself, when that is available it will be a “male issue.” Till then we buy condoms if you are approaching this from a purely sexual activity standpoint. If not, then we are looking specifically at a women’s health issue, and that means it is no longer a shared responsibility, and therefore the cost should not be assumed by all.

          • What?

            No. Unwanted kids, the costs associated with low income/ inability to afford the pill, and the simple fact that the earth can’t feed all of us past the year 2050—those are responsibilities that are and will be assumed by all uncle dorko.

            • Uncle_Rico

              Pills free for the poor jerk_off, since we’re name calling now. And just so you know, these people that you think will magically stop having kids aren’t responsible enough to be burdened with taking birth control every day. But feel free to say something else thats dumb, we can hardly wait.

  • Brett

    So when will the state require insurers to pay for rubbers, tooth paste, aspirin, cold/flu medications, flu shots, hepatitis vaccines, etc.?? Keep in mind that the state already pays for AIDS medications for people who KNOWINGLY engaged in risky behaviour, to the tune of over $15 GRAND per year, per PERSON.

    • Elwood


    • Huh

      Risky behavior like blood transfusions, right? Or entrusting a health care professional to fully follow biohazard protocol?

    • Paul Solinger

      Not sure about rubbers and toothpaste, but everything else you mentioned should be fully covered. It’s really sad that Republicans feel that only people who can afford health care should receive it, and everyone else can just die. Slowly and painfully. How Christian.

  • Sexual Reassignment surgery

    The reporting was a tad weak since the debate that sparked this story was either about religious freedom or Sandra Fluke’s campaign to require employers to pay for sexual reassignment.

    Many states also have the following provision:

    “Religious employers and organizations may be granted an exception. ”

    That seems like something worth mentioning.

  • See BS

    Shouldn’t state mandates be based on CDC statistics? If heart disease is on top of the list, shouldn’t that get mandates first?

    State Mandates should resemble Triage.

    • PO'd Minnesotan

      >Shouldn’t state mandates be based on CDC statistics? If heart disease is on top of the list, shouldn’t that get mandates first?

      That would make sense and since politicians don’t have any, it won’t see the light of day.

    • Brett


  • Sue

    Pat, How can you call yourself a reporter when your stories (and thats what they are) are half truths

    • PO'd Minnesotan

      Where’s the proof Sue?

  • Sue

    10% of this story was on birth control? Where is the story that goes with the title?

    • PO'd Minnesotan

      Try reading the bill, er, I mean, title, Sue.

  • MichaelEDuncan

    Many existing laws and regulations apply specifically to pregnant women. Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act offer new benefits for expecting mothers. Search online for “Penny_Health” if you need affordable insurance for yourself or your wife.

  • Just sayin'

    Oh my, criticize something that Rush says and look at all the right wing nut bag responses. Rush is a lunatic and he is getting loonier as the day goes on. Just because you believe in everything he says does not make it correct.

    Good work Pat, keep it up. The nut bags will always be with us

  • Willow

    One thing which so many people fail to mention is PMDD. Please Google it if you don’t know what it means. Many women, including myself, suffer from this condition. Natural remedies are a joke for it and OTC meds only make the pain from cramping bearable. I still have nights in which I lose 5 hours of sleep because I have severe cramps that make me want to curl up in a ball and die. The problem is our choice is either get birth control, or suffer through it. PMDD is a real medical condition and when women lose jobs because they have it, it does need to be treated.

    This is something that many men on the right don’t seem to want to admit exists, that there is a legitimate medical reason for birth control pills that has nothing to do with sleeping around and not getting pregnant.

    Do I think other people should have to pay for birth control? No, but it should be covered by private health insurance if it’s for a medical reason. Some birth control pills can run up to as much as $60 for a prescription. That’s a lot of money out of your paycheck if you happen to be making less than $20 an hour, which most people do. And let me reiterate, not all who take birth control pills are taking it to sleep around. Some of us do have legitimate medical reasons for them.

    PMDD does exist and is a serious condition for some. I know women who used to have to go to the emergency room due to fainting and losing too much blood that time of the month. When that’s happening, we do need medical treatment.

    • Jason

      First, sorry to here about your illnes. From what I understand the majority of women take birth control pills to prevent just that. Not because of other health concerns. We should not get into the business of forming public policy around the exceptions. This is why central planning will never work. You cannot put everyone into the same category. Hasnt worked in the past and will not work now.

    • sUE

      @wILLOW sOUNDS LIKE ADD or one of those made things!!!

  • Observer

    If men got pregnant, abortion and birth control would be handed out free at the local hospital and pharmacy. Until a man can carry a child for nine months, endure labor, and then nurse that child from his body, he needs to think twice before he speaks. Way too many men impregnate a woman and then abdicate all responsibility to take care of the child emotionally and monetarily. As Willow so eloquently stated, it is way more expensive for insurance to pay for childbirth, and then health insurance for a child, than to pay for contraceptives. That this dialog is taking place at all, speaks to the ignorance of many.

    • Jason

      @ Obsever, As Willow so eloquently stated, it is way more expensive for insurance to pay for childbirth, and then health insurance for a child, than to pay for contraceptives. Can you now see why the birth control issue is on the national front. Obama care.

      • Observer

        @Jason. Your point is? That Obamacare will eventually lower health insurance costs because contraceptives are less expensive than childbirth and all the attendant insurance costs? Thank you for supporting my statement.

        • Jason

          @observer, population control.

  • maddy

    Here’s some other facts…

    Oral contraceptives have been classified by the WHO as Class 1 carcinogens (right up there with aesbestos)

    Since the introduction of the pill the out-of-wedlock birth rate has skyrocketed from 5% to 40%…contraceptives being unilaterally available at every drug store nationwide, through planned parenthood, etc have NOT reduced the number of unwanted pregnancies…rather the rate has gone way, way up. And the #1 predictor of children living below poverty level is being in a single parent household…

    Of every 4 pregnancies in the US 1 is aborted…25%. So no, abortion is not “rare” as touted, it’s sadly very common. 34% of all young women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 20. Of the remaining 3 pregnancies carried to term…40% out of wedlock as stated above.

    One of two things (or a combination of both) MUST be true…either contraceptives are radically less effective than advertized in real life use, or people are hopelessly irresponsible in their use.

    So with 50 years of the pill and condoms and spermacides being cheap and available explain to me why such pitiful results??? And so we’re sure that making them “FREE” will make all this go away??? NOT. BTW, the generic versions of the pill are available at Walmart and Target for $9 per month in something like 41 states (other states have laws prohibiting loss-leading sales of pharma products). And under Title X the low income can get it free.

    Here’s an idea…let’s end employer based coverage. Your employer shouldn’t get to decide what insurance you are offered, and you shouldn’t get to burden your employer with your moral decisions which conflict with theirs. Everyone ought to have a health care spending account, which they can contribute to pre-tax, and an employer can contribute their share and everyone should choose their own policy with the options they want. Seems to work just fine for auto and life insurance…
    There is NO REASON for an employer to be involved NONE. And anyone who thinks the employer pays for their insurance is clueless…your salary is determined by your benefits costs and they have two bogus buckets “employer contribution” and “employee premium” because without it the employer would have no control over wage inflation. Anyone who has ever run a P&L for a corporation knows this.

    • Uncle_Rico

      @maddy, I liked your article more than the hazy garbage coming from the journalist. Nice facts & points, well said.

    • Tired of the insurance scam

      How about we just take the age limits off Medicare, adjust the premiums, and use it as a public option which anyone can use. There, problem solved. Of course, all the private insurers will cry “foul.”

  • sumpty

    All I know is having a child costs about $30,000 by the time you leave the hospital. I’d rather insurance pay for birth control than unwanted pregnancies. You will never take the dumb out of the promiscuous women out there so make it easy for them at least.

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