Insurance coverage

Rule removes fertility awareness family planning methods from insurance coverage

Women’s health care is in the news a lot these days, but one story that hasn’t made enough headlines is how a new US Department of Health and Human Services This rule excludes women from insurance coverage for certain family planning methods.

The rule states that insurance companies are not required to cover family planning methods based on fertility awareness, although such companies are required to cover contraceptives and abortive drugs and devices. In other words, the federal government – ​​with the approval of President Joe Biden – is punishing women who want to listen to and understand their bodies.

I work as a nurse practitioner and many of my clients are women seeking family planning and health care services grounded in fertility awareness. They choose these methods for many reasons. While some use these methods because of their religious beliefs, others are drawn to these methods because they want to learn to work with their body’s natural cycles. Fertility awareness-based methods can be very helpful in detecting underlying issues such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, allowing women to seek treatment rather than simply masking symptoms with contraceptives.

These methods, however, are criticized by the federal government for no reason beyond the preferences of government officials. In May, I filed a court case in federal district court against this rule and more recently the court agreed to temporarily halt enforcement of the rule while my trial continues.

This is important because the rule goes into effect on December 31. Had the court not issued an injunction to prevent the rule from being applied while my case progresses on January 1, I would not have been able to provide my patients with the care they want and need. they need, unless they are able to pay out of pocket.

This rule is nothing more than an abuse of government power. As underground bureaucrats write insane rules, the patients I serve will go without care – and the poorer my patients, the harder this rule hits.

I participate in a unique system that allows me to help ensure women most in need have access to health care that helps them listen and take care of their bodies naturally. We bill the insurers, then donate the proceeds to a nonprofit clinic that provides health care to everyone who needs it, whether they can pay or not. It works because the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance plans from charging women for “preventive care and screenings.” Instead, it forces insurance companies to cover this preventative care. Insurance companies reimburse him at a rate of $300 to $450 per session, and new patients are instructed about six times in their first five months.

In 2016, HHS added fertility awareness-based family planning methods to this category, ensuring that all women—including those who value learning and listening to their body’s natural rhythms—have access to preventive care. And as a result, we were able to bill the insurance companies for this, which allowed patients who could not afford to access these services and enabled us to give more to the needy.

But in December 2021, HHS removed these fertility awareness-based family planning methods from the list of methods that insurance had to cover. He did this secretly, without using the notice and comment process or providing justification, both of which are required by the Administrative Procedure Law. In other words, HHS decided that it didn’t approve of women using natural methods based on fertility awareness to understand their own bodies and decide when to grow their families, so it illegally excluded those methods.

I have filed a lawsuit asking the court to allow me to continue to provide women and their families with the health care they need, and to stop the federal government from penalizing women who care. natural methods of family planning based on knowledge of fertility. By removing the eligibility of these methods for insurance reimbursements, the administration effectively prevents health practitioners from being able to care for the most needy women in our community.

Cami Jo Tice-Harouff is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Longview. She wrote this for The Dallas Morning News.

We welcome your thoughts in a letter to the editor. Consult the instructions and drop your letter here.