Maryland's Contraceptive Equity Act advances birth control access

June 2016

Ibis applauds Maryland’s Contraceptive Equity Act, signed into law on May 10. This law, which will take effect January 1, 2018, provides the most comprehensive contraceptive coverage in the United States.

We are particularly enthusiastic about the law’s provision mandating that insurers cover over-the-counter (OTC) contraceptive medications without requiring a prescription, which will have a substantial impact when the FDA approves an OTC birth control pill. By ensuring that OTC birth control medications are covered right off the shelf with no prescription needed, the Maryland bill fills a gap in the Affordable Care Act, which currently allows insurers to require a prescription for coverage of OTC birth control for women. Under the Maryland law, women will be able to avoid the unnecessary and costly burdens of visiting a clinician for a prescription and can fully benefit from OTC access.

This bill will enable women to walk right into the drugstore and go home with the OTC contraceptive medication they need, fully covered. When the bill goes into effect, it will immediately impact the person who needs time-sensitive emergency contraception. Requiring a prescription for insurance coverage undermines the benefits of OTC access to contraception, and guaranteeing insurance coverage of contraceptive medications will help to ensure access for Maryland women to a future OTC pill.

The Maryland Contraceptive Equity Act is a significant advance for birth control access in the state, and an important win for a future OTC birth control pill. This law provides model legislation that we hope other states will adopt to secure full OTC birth control coverage for women across the US. To read more about our work to move a birth control pill over the counter, please visit Free the Pill, or the Ibis project page