The Insurer’s Role in the Contraception Controversy

By Max Resnik

February 14, 2012 Updated Feb 14, 2012 at 7:10 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Health insurers like Physicians Health Plan in Fort Wayne say they are not getting involved in the contraception debate between the Obama Administration and religiously affiliated employers.

PHP says their plan is solely to focus on improving their systems as they prepare to implement the various facets of the National Healthcare Law. Specific contraception policy implementation could be tough however according to PHP President and CEO Richard Cochran.

“Since this mandate is at the employee level and we don't maintain the agreement directly with the employee, how do we actually implement this? Especially if there's any indication that the coverage for that may or may not be required to be visible to the employer.”

There are a number of other issues insurers like PHP will face once the mandate begins to take shape including the number of condoms an employee can receive, the brands of condoms they can receive, how often they can ask for contraception, where they can receive it and what other forms of birth control would be permissible.

Cochran also asks if a woman will be able to purchase contraception, at a grocery store for instance, and claim the purchase on her insurance. He asks, “Will we receive a receipt that includes milk, bread and condoms?”

In theory, the changes should save health insurance companies money by cutting down on the number of unwanted pregnancies and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Cochran says he is unsure it will actually work out that way.

“It's supposed to be a savings but at the end of the day, the savings is more of a cost avoidance than true savings so it really depends by contracts potentially.”

Cochran says he hopes that these and many other questions will be answered by August when the changes go into effect.

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