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    Vasectomy scrutinized in contraception, scope of practice campaigns

    Based on a partnership with Urology Times, articles from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) provide updates on legislative processes and issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact the AACU government affairs office at 847-517-1050 or [email protected] for more information.

    The Affordable Care Act's controversial contraceptive coverage mandate requires most private health plans to provide cost-free coverage of all FDA-approved methods of contraception used by women. Reproductive health advocates in many states are pressing for new laws that will survive with or without the ACA and, additionally, cover male methods of contraception.

    Contraceptive coverage mandated by the ACA was challenged in the courts from the very start. These legal entanglements contributed to inconsistent implementation and enforcement of the law. What's more, by restricting the coverage mandate to women, many insurance companies are relieved of the responsibility to cover vasectomy, a voluntary sterilization procedure chosen annually by more than 500,000 Americans.

    Read more from AACU: HHS nominee Dr. Price promises physician-friendly reforms

    According to the Guttmacher Institute, an advocacy group focused on sexual and reproductive health, 28 states guarantee private insurance coverage for most FDA-approved methods of contraception, while four states (California, Illinois, Maryland, and Vermont) require that it be provided to the patient cost-free. In recent years, several states have stepped in to expand these mandates to include contraception methods used by men.

    Legislators in Maryland and Vermont passed new laws in May 2016 that prohibit health plans from including co-pays or co-insurance for any contraceptive method, including voluntary sterilization for men. Two months later, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) approved a less-sweeping bill that requires vasectomy coverage, but allows cost-sharing.

    Next: More states propose requiring insurers to cover vasectomy

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