22nd Alaska State Legislature
Representative Lisa Murkowski

Portrait of Representative Lisa Murkowski, 91.46k. Session:
State Capitol, Room 408
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-3783
Fax: (907) 465-2293

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District 14 and L & C Committee Info

716 W 4th Avenue, Suite 650
Anchorage, AK 99501-2133
Phone: (907) 269-0174
Fax: (907) 269-0177

Sponsor Statement for HB 313
Insurance Coverage for Contraceptives

An Act requiring that the cost of contraceptives be included in certain health care insurance coverage.
Released: January 22, 2002
Contact: Representative Lisa Murkowski's office at (907) 465-5031

In order to bring Alaska into compliance under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we have introduced House Bill 313, also referred to as "Prescription Equity". Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that an employer's failure to cover prescription contraceptives in employee health benefit plans constitutes unlawful sex discrimination.

While HB 313 calls for contraceptive coverage, it only requires it in a plan already offering prescription drugs and does not require an insurer provide coverage for abortion. In the scope of this bill, a religious employer would be exempt from offering coverage for contraceptives if it is against their doctrine.

Coverage of prescriptive contraceptives can be a point of contention for some. However it is important to realize contraceptive coverage is healthier for the women, the family and society than an unintended pregnancy. In 1996, 42 percent of the live births in Alaska were from unintended pregnancies. Additionally, many doctors will prescribe contraceptives to a woman not for sexual reasons, but for the overall health of the women from regulating menstrual cycles to alleviating dermatology problems and other hormonal imbalances.

The more effective forms of contraception are generally the most expensive. Women and their families who must pay out of pocket may opt for less expensive and sometimes less effective methods, increasing the risk for unintended pregnancies. Women of reproductive age currently spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men. Much of the gender gap in expenses is due to reproductive health-related supplies and services.

Cost analyses show if health insurance policies were to include coverage for these contraceptive supplies, cost to employers would be minimal - as little as $1.43 per employee per month. In 1998, coverage inequality was brought into the spotlight as Viagra hit the market. Within two months of entering the U.S. market, more than half of all Viagra prescriptions received some insurance reimbursement, while overall coverage for oral contraceptives did not reach this level until they had been on the market for over 40 years.

To date 17 states offer comprehensive coverage for prescription contraceptives, while an additional 15 states offer partial mandates or optional coverage. The sponsors and co-sponsors of HB 313 strongly urge your support of this legislation.

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Related Links

Alaska State Department of Community and Economic Development Division of Insurance

HB 113 : Health Care Insurance Payments

HB 240 : Medical Insurance for Retired Teachers

HB 246 : Omnibus Insurance Reform

HB 282 : Prescription Drug Insurance Benefits

HB 290 : Comprehensive Health Insurance Association

HB 313 : Insurance Coverage for Contraceptives

HB 315 : State Health Insurance

HB 318 : Uniform Prescription Drug Card

HB 367 : Medical Assistance Program Coverage

HB 380 : Reimburse Certain Retiree Medicare Charge

SB 15 : Insurance Coverage for Contraceptives

SB 37 : Physician Negotiations With Health Insurance

SB 241 : Comprehensive Health Insurance Association

SJR 28 : Long-Term Care Insurance