Monday, May 15, 2017

Women’s rights to health care guaranteed in Washington state

This week is National Women’s Health Week, from May 14-20.

Here in Washington state, there are legal protections to preserve women’s rights to get health care.

Under state law (leg.wa.gov), health insurance companies must give female patients direct access to women's health care providers and to allow them to self-refer to services, including maternity care, reproductive services and gynecological care.

The Affordable Care Act further requires that FDA-approved contraceptives for women be covered without cost-sharing as part of preventative services. But contraceptive fairness is not new to Washington state. Commissioner Kreidler was one of the advocates for a 2001 law that required insurers to cover contraceptives if they covered other prescription drugs. The law was enacted under the state’s antidiscrimination laws.

A 2014 study found that insurers inside Washington’s health benefit exchange were not giving women correct information about how to get contraceptives, which are covered at no cost to the consumer. Kreidler met with the insurers and they agreed to update the training for their customer-service staff.

This year, the state Legislature passed a bill to allow women to get a 12-month supply of contraceptives at once and covered by their health insurance plan starting Jan. 1. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign House Bill 1234 this week.

If you experience difficulty accessing benefits guaranteed to you under Washington state or federal law, you can file a complaint against your insurance company.