For Stephanie Force, finding a birth control method that she likes and can get without paying out of pocket has been a struggle, despite the Affordable Care Act's promise of free contraceptives for women and adolescent girls in most health plans.
The 27-year-old physician recruiter in Roanoke, Va., was perfectly happy with the NuvaRing, a flexible vaginal ring that women insert monthly to release hormones to prevent pregnancy. But her insurer, Anthem, stopped covering the branded product and switched her to a generic version in early 2020. Force says the new product left her with headaches and feeling irritable and short-tempered.
After talking to her OB-GYN, Force tried an IUD. But that made her feel worse: She had bad cramps, gained 10 pounds and developed severe hormonal acne. Plus, she was charged $248 for an ultrasound her provider used to guide the insertion of the device, a charge she successfully fought.
Force also considered a couple of birth control products approved in recent years: a non-hormonal vaginal gel called Phexxi and a vaginal ring called Annovera that can be used for a year. But Phexxi isn't covered by her employer health plan, and she would owe a $45 copayment for Annovera.
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