By Sarah Ferris - 04/29/15 09:00 AM EDT
Insurance companies are widely ignoring an ObamaCare rule that requires them to provide free or low-cost birth control, according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center.
Some insurance companies are still charging women out-of-pocket costs for birth control and limiting their coverage to only certain methods of birth control, both violations of the Affordable Care Act, according to the 22-page report to be released Wednesday.
The most common coverage problems are for the vaginal ring, the patch and an intrauterine device (IUD). In some cases, the insurance company will "even suggest that a woman switch methods if she does not want any out-of-pocket costs," according to the report.
Some companies are not covering the costs of related doctor’s appointments or are imposing age limits on coverage.
The uneven levels of coverage "not only fail to comply with the [Affordable Care Act], but recreate the cost barriers that existed prior to the ACA that contribute to increased risk of unintended pregnancy," the group wrote.
The organization believes that the violations are widespread beyond its sample 15 states. Women living in all 50 states have told the organization’s birth control information hotline that they ran into issues obtaining birth control on their insurance plan.
The National Women’s Law Center will announce its findings Wednesday at a press conference joined by Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress Senate Dems demand answers from Wells Fargo over treatment of military A fight for new rights MORE (Wash.), a top Democrat on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Murray already sent letters to eight health insurance companies in her home state on Tuesday, raising concerns about the lack of compliance on the rule after other reports made similar findings.
The National Women’s Law Center is now urging the federal government to further clarify its rules on ObamaCare by issuing more guidance to insurance companies and to states.
The organization is also calling on state and federal agencies to more closely evaluate insurance companies’ plans and to better manage consumer complaints.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services quickly reiterated that the office takes "reports of non-compliance very seriously."
"We will continue to provide guidance to help ensure that women have access to recommended preventive benefits and will explore whether additional measures are necessary," spokeswoman Katie Hill wrote in an email.
The head of America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurers' group, blasted the study for presenting "distorted picture of reality."
"To use highly selective anecdotes to draw sweeping conclusions about consumers’ coverage does nothing to improve the quality, accessibility, or affordability of health care for individuals and families,” the group's president and CEO, Karen Ignagni, wrote in a statement.
--This report was updated at 11:28 a.m.