Contraception, Health Insurance, Women's Health

Health plans in Washington State must cover 12-month refills for Rx contraceptives

WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

A state law that took effect Jan. 1, 2018, requires insurers to cover 12-month refills for prescription contraceptives, including the pill. They also must cover these prescriptions if they’re available at your doctor’s office.

Before, many insurers only covered refills for 30 days or up to 90 days’ worth.

The law applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans, including those you purchase yourself or small- and large-employer plans. The state’s Public Employee Benefit Board (PEBB) that covers state employees also includes this new benefit.

We’ve heard from women who have had trouble getting a 12-month supply from their pharmacies, despite the law change, and have reached out to the pharmacy association to improve communication with their members.

Washington is one of at least six other states, including Hawaii, Vermont, California, Oregon, Illinois and Virginia, that have enacted this change for women.

The law change was sponsored by Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, that said having to go back to the pharmacy every month to get birth control pills was a real burden on women.

Prescription contraceptives are considered preventive care and are covered by health plans with no cost-sharing, under the Affordable Care Act. But you still need a prescription from your medical provider.

Recent studies show that increased supplies of contraceptives cut down on unintended pregnancies and abortions.

If you’re having trouble accessing a full year’s supply of birth control, or are having other trouble with your health insurance, we want to know. File a complaint and we’ll look into it for you.