On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that Bartell DrugCo., the oldest family-owned drugstore chain in the nation, would haveto start including contraceptives for women in its company health plan.
This progressive decision by Lasnik should serve as a precedent to othercompanies who have yet to implement the coverage of femalecontraceptives into health coverage plans.
The challenge to the company?s plan was filed by Jennifer Erickson, a27-year-old employee, who became discouraged with the company?s healthplan after she turned away numerous customers whose company health plansdid not cover female contraceptives.
In 1998, Congress ordered that all federal employers cover prescriptioncontraceptives for women. Yet this decision did not cover privateemployers who still refuse to provide for prescription contraceptivesfor females.
The federal coverage is a step in the right direction in providing womenother options than abortion, which is included in many health plans.Women?s organizations have been lobbying for contraception coverage byemployers’ health plans and hopefully, these groups will be able to usethis decision to aid in their quest.
Recently, some health plans have begun to include coverage for the maleimpotence pill Viagra. The very same plans do not provide coverage forfemale contraception. Why should male sexual gratification be covered,but female contraception not?
The federal coverage is a step in the right direction. This decisionagainst a private company is another step. If more private companieswould voluntarily include prescription contraception coverage, then theoptions afforded to women through their company’s health plans would begreatly improved.