Health care reform now considers birth control a preventive care measure for women

TAMPA, Fla. - Patients of Dr. Sonja Perkins at Women's Care Tampa have likely heard her motto about birth control at least once.  "A dollar a day keeps the baby away," she smiled.

Except for some of her patients, it's more like $2 or $3 a day, or $100 a month.

Though generics may cost less than $10 a month, they don't work for all women.

"The most common complaint that we get is that the birth control is too expensive," Dr. Perkins said. "We get complaints and calls everyday."

It's a complaint that will likely disappear in 2013, when women start seeing the effects of free birth control, now considered preventive care in President Obama's health care reform.

But not everyone agrees that birth control, including the morning-after pill, should be considered preventive.

The Catholic Church is openly against the measure.  "We firmly believe that the creation of life is the decision of God and the parents. Therefore, the government interfering with it is wrong," said Diocese of St. Petersburg Spokesman Frank Murphy.

However, Dr. Jay Wolfson, a health law specialist at USF College of Public Health, says the legal argument favors free contraception.

"If you look at it as preventing an unwanted pregnancy which places a burden on the family and society, and enforcing the principal of women's choice with respect to her own body, then it's reasonable," Dr. Wolfson said.

However, he predicts insurance premiums may increase by 20% to 40%.

"We're all going to have to share in the risk of protecting each other from things that none of us want to have," Dr. Wolfson said.

Seventy percent of Dr. Perkins' patients use some kind of contraception, but she says that number would likely increase if cost decreased, simply because many women opt out due to affordability.

"A woman's right to plan her pregnancy, to choose for her body what is good for her at that time, is a right of the patient," Dr. Perkins said. "It should be considered one of the primary health care rights."

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