Insurers To Get Reminder About Oregon's Prescription Birth Control Law

Dec 12, 2016

A new law this year in Oregon requires insurance companies to cover a 12-month supply of prescription birth control. The law took effect earlier this year, but its backers say some insurers haven't gotten the message.

So when Mary Nolan stopped to pick up a prescription for her daughter last month, it didn't go as planned.

"The pharmacist was not aware of the law,” she said. “And the health insurance carrier denied the claim for extended coverage because their claims adjustors weren't aware of the law."

But Nolan knew all about the law. She's the director of Planned Parenthood of Oregon, which helped lead the push for the 2015 legislation.

Nolan told her experience to a meeting of the Oregon Senate's Health Care Committee. She said Planned Parenthood has heard similar stories from many Oregon women. The state's Department of Consumer and Business Services said it's heard so many complaints that it's issuing a bulletin to insurance companies reminding them of their obligations.

Failure to comply is a violation of the Oregon Insurance Code, which could subject the insurer to civil penalties. Insurance companies testified to the panel that they are working to make sure their providers are up to speed on the legislation.

Jessica Adamson, a lobbyist for Providence Health, also said a "technology glitch" prevented the automatic approval of 12-month birth control prescriptions at pharmacies that are a part of the Providence network.

"But the pharmacist or member could make the phone call and it would be approved through the claims department," Adamson said.

It took Providence more than 11 months to fix the glitch after the law took effect in January.