Insurers usually don’t cover over-the-counter products but that could change as the Biden administration seeks to expand insurance coverage of products such as an OTC birth control pill and other items.
The administration is asking for public comment on whether to require most health insurance plans to cover a range of OTC preventive products, including contraception, for free.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover specific types of birth control, but only if they are prescribed.
In addition to the federal ACA requirements, six states (California, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington) have laws or regulations requiring state-regulated private health insurance plans (individual and fully insured employer-sponsored plans) to cover, without cost-sharing, OTC contraception without a prescription.
The departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury said they want comments on a policy change requiring insurers to cover certain items would impact access to contraceptives, tobacco smoking cessation products, folic acid taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding supplies.
The comment request comes after the first OTC birth control pill, Opill, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year. Opill is likely to become available in stores and online starting in early 2024 for women of all ages.
“We know that making preventive care available over the counter can improve access — but there may still be cost barriers,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.