The Importance of Family Planning
Family planning is making a deliberate choice about when you want to have children, and when you do not. Sometimes considered synonymous with birth control, family planning includes a larger number of methods and practices. However, many Americans seem to not value the availability and affordability of their options. Whether due to personal beliefs, lack of information, or irresponsibility, the use of these methods and practices should still be much more widespread than they have been.
Regardless of political or religious affiliations, being financially and emotionally considerate of ourselves, our families, and others is one major intent of family planning. Knowing whether or not you are ready to raise and support a child is more than a question of your values. If your values do conflict with family planning, it is important to think realistically. Perhaps your future and your bank account will not be prepared, maybe a degree or a job were in the picture, etc. Having a baby or getting a disease will often throw a wrench in the process of getting on your feet. Peace of mind is a large reason to implement the practices of family planning, as with any other sort of planning.
As a result of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans are supporting the effort to give men and women the tools they need to be more knowledgeable and responsible. Public options for family planning are also available for the millions of people who are unable to afford private health coverage. Even those who have no insurance can still receive these services for little or no cost, depending on your income level.
What Does Individual Health Insurance Cover?
Private health insurance offers an array of family planning services, and pregnancy care for those who are prepared to start a family. Being insured has never offered so many free preventative benefits, whether you have group or individual and family coverage. Women now have 100 percent coverage on all FDA-approved methods of birth control, which makes it that much better to be responsible and taking care of yourself. Thanks to health care reform, health plans of all types are simplifying the process and making it known that family planning is “essential.”
When you have a health plan, they are happy to encourage these services, most of which are no additional cost for the service. Annual OB/GYN visits, Pap tests, STD, HIV/AIDS, and HPV screenings, as well as education, counseling and treatment for such diseases are all free services. Counseling, education, supplies and care are also offered to insured women for no cost during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. It is certainly worth taking advantage of these services if you have health coverage.
If you do not have health insurance and want to research pricing and plan options, fill out a quick quote. It may not be as expensive as you think, and once you are covered, it is well worth the investment, especially if you are inspired to be responsible about your health choices. We have many plans and companies to choose from, all of which are now required by law to offer more free services to women.
What Does Medicaid Cover?
Those who cannot afford individual health insurance may be able to qualify for Medicaid. Each state’s Medicaid program covers contraceptives and reproductive health, as it is the largest source of public funding for family planning services in the United States. As each state varies in coverage and policy, it is important to know what services are covered in your particular state. The majority of Medicaid programs have a separate program or Medicaid Family Planning Waiver dedicated specifically to covering and providing this type of care.
These programs will typically cover women of reproductive age with a household income that meets the state’s limits. Covered services vary from state to state, and may include physical exams, Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment, family planning counseling and education, pregnancy tests, various methods of birth control (pills, patch, ring, shots, etc.), colposcopies, lab tests, and prescriptions.
Other Family Planning Options
Many scenarios can prevent men and women from getting care when they need it. Whether it be too long a wait for an appointment with your preferred gynecologist, or lack of financial means, you should still have several family planning resources in your area. Community health clinics and Planned Parenthood centers can often take patients on a short notice basis. Their services may be free or very low cost if you are unable to pay full price. These centers were established to promote health and wellness, and made to be utilized by those in need.