Context: Although unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are considerable problems in the United States, private health insurance plans are inconsistent in their coverage of reproductive and sexual health services needed to address these problems. Methods: A survey administered to a market-representative sample of 12 health insurance carders in Washington State assessed benefit coverage for gynecologic services, maternity services, contraceptive services, pregnancy termination, infertility services, reproductive cancer screening, STD services, HIV and AIDS services, and sterilization, as well as for the existence of confidentiality policies. "Core" services in each category were defined based on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and other recommendations. Results: Of the 91 top-selling plans on which data were collected, 8% were indemnity plans, 14% were point-of-service plans, 21% were preferred-provider organization plans and 57% were health maintenance organization (HMO)-type products; they had a combined enrollment of 1.4 million individuals. Coverage of core services varied widely by type of plan. While a high proportion of plans covered core gynecologic, maternity, reproductive cancer screening, STD and HIV and AIDS services, nearly half of plans did not cover any kind of contraceptive method. Approximately 13% of female enrollees did not have core coverage for gynecologic services, 19% for maternity services, 75% for contraception, 37% for sterilization and 53% for pregnancy termination; 98% of women and men were not covered for infertility treatment. Most carriers did not have specific policies for maintaining privacy of sensitive health information. Overall, benefit coverage was lower for indemnity, preferred-provider organization and HMO plans in Washington State than has previously been seen nationally. Conclusions: A sizable proportion of women and men in Washington State who rely on private-sector health insurance lack comprehensive coverage for key reproductive and sexual health services.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health