Typically, women who take the birth control pill often have to visit the pharmacy every three or four weeks to refill their prescription. However, women in Oregon will be spared that inconvenience thanks to a new law which was signed into effect by Democratic Governor Kate Brown, who signed a bill requiring insurance companies to cover birth control prescriptions a year at a time.
The bill, which passed through the state’s legislature with bipartisan support, will go in effect on Jan. 1. People with a birth control prescription will receive a three-month supply before being able to obtain a year-long refill.
Mary Nolan, interim executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, praised the move. She said the benefits "are so obvious once you point them out. People had been accustomed to going along with 30 days for so long that people hadn't really questioned it.”
Supporters argued that the legislation would help prevent unintended pregnancies, especially for those who live in rural areas and are unable to regularly visit pharmacies. “We knew that the medical research was very clear that filling a yearlong prescription all at once is a significant contributor to improving the effectiveness of birth control," Nolan said.
Detractors claimed it could increase healthcare costs for employers and insurers if a woman decided to stop taking the pills or changed prescriptions. "To me it's just a checkbook issue, plain and simple," Rep. Julie Parrish, a West Linn Republican, who opposed the bill.
Oregon continues to make strides towards easier access to contraception. Lawmakers are considering a different bill that would allow pharmacists to write birth control perscriptions, proved that women complete a self-administered screening. The measure already has bipartisan support.