Shapiro administration pushes insurers to cover Opill for PA residents

Gov. Josh Shapiro delivering remarks at a reproductive rights roundtable with local and national leaders from Planned Parenthood at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on Fri. Jan. 26, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

April 1, 2024

The Shapiro administration wants health insurance companies to cover access to Opill, the country’s first over-the-counter birth control medication. If not, they must provide additional information to make sure they’re in compliance with federal laws and regulations.

It’s been a little less than one month since Perrigo started distributing Opill, the country’s first over-the-counter birth control medication, to stores and pharmacies around the country, and Gov. Josh Shapiro issued guidance on Monday for health insurance companies to provide coverage and access to the new medication.

“For millions of women, birth control represents personal freedom and the ability to make choices over their own bodies. Now it’s time that insurance companies step up – I believe no one should be denied access to birth control because they can’t afford it,” Shapiro said in a statement.

Perrigo, Opill’s manufacturer, has set the price for a one-month’s supply for the birth control at $19.99 with discounts for three or six month supply.

Dr. Alhambra Frarey, an obstetrics and gynecologist (OBGYN) at Penn Medicine, called Opill a “wonderful advancement” in an interview with The Keystone.

“[Opill] will be available at commercial pharmacies,” Frarey said. “It’s an incredibly safe medication. It has the potential to help a wide group of people. There are very few people that it would not be safe for, and it’s really exciting. It’s a wonderful advancement in access to contraception in the US.”

Frarey also went on to talk about the importance of the medication’s widespread availability and how it will break barriers to access in marginalized and underserved communities.

“Barriers to accessing healthcare, including contraception, definitely disproportionately affect people of color, indigenous people, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, those living in poverty, those living with disabilities. So this is definitely a health equity issue,” Frarey said.

“Anything that we can do to help people access contraception more readily in ways that they feel comfortable doing it is an excellent step forward.”

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) will require insurers to provide additional information to verify compliance with federal law and regulations if they choose not to cover the new medication.

“PID will be pushing companies to make sure exception processes aren’t preventing women from obtaining reproductive healthcare,” Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys said in a statement.

“The U.S. Congress has identified opportunities for insurers to improve access to contraceptive care. PID, too, has identified that such opportunities exist among Pennsylvania’s health insurance plans. We can do better.”

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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