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Insurers must cover birth control with no copays

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WASHINGTON (AP) - It's part of a big expansion of coverage for women's preventive care under President Barack Obama's health care law. The administration says health insurance plans will have to cover birth control as preventive care -- and there can be no copays.

Also to be covered without copays are breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual "well woman" physical, and screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy. And, plans will have to cover counseling on domestic violence, as well as other services.

The requirements will take effect in January of 2013 in most cases. They're expected to eventually apply to most employer-based plans, and to coverage purchased individually.

The move reflects a near-unanimous recommendation last month from a panel of experts.

As recently as the 1990s, many health insurance plans didn't cover birth control. Today, almost all plans cover prescription contraceptives, with varying co-pays.

The cost of the new coverage will be spread among people with health insurance, resulting in slightly higher premiums. It could be offset somewhat with savings from diseases prevented or from pregnancies that are planned.

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