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D.C. ladies on the pill: You may not know the name of Gennet Purcell, the woman that Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed to head up the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking last August. You should. Purcell may be responsible for sending your birth control costs through the roof. Yesterday, Amie Newman of R.H. Reality Check reported that Purcell recently gave insurance companies the go-ahead to opt out of contraception coverage. [UPDATE: Purcell’s office roundly denies Newman’s story. Statement after the jump].
Under Purcell’s watch, private insurance companies operating in Washington DC are now allowed to opt out of covering contraception in individual plans. This coverage is considered “non-mandatory” by the insurance commissioner and some women are finding their birth control coverage suddenly dropped.
UPDATE: A call I made to DISB this afternoon was not returned, but a DISB rep issued the following statement to DCist:
The Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) has not made any changes in its position regarding contraceptive coverage in individual health insurance under Commissioner Gennet Purcell or prior to Commissioner Purcell’s appointment.
In fact, mandated coverages for insurance are not at the discretion of the insurance commissioner, but rather mandated coverages are those that are required by D.C. law. Contraceptive coverage is not now, nor has it ever been, a mandated coverage in D.C. DISB has researched its recent consumer complaint history and found no complaints about individual health insurance not covering contraception. It is surveying insurance companies writing individual health insurance in the District of Columbia and, while responses are still coming in, has found that there are individual plans available in D.C. that provide contraceptive coverage.
Photo by nateOne, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0