New Jersey Adds Contraceptives Coverage Mandate

January 10, 2006 ( - Acting New Jersey Governor Richard Codey has signed into a law a bill requiring that Garden State health insurance providers covering outpatient prescription drugs now have to likewise cover physician-prescribed contraceptives for women.

The new requirement, contained in S556, applies to individual and group health plans, health maintenance organizations and to the State Health Benefits Program, which covers state workers and employees of more than 600 local governments and school districts and 286 other government entities in New Jersey. S556 was approved by the New Jersey Senate June 17, 2004, by a vote of 27-11 and by the Assembly December 12, 2005, by a 57-14 margin.

Covered under the measure are birth control pills, diaphragms, and any other drug or device approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use by women as a contraceptive and available only with a prescription.

A religious employer can be exempted from the coverage mandate if it conflicts with the employer’s “bona fide religious beliefs and practices.”

The nonpartisan New Jersey Office of Legislative Services estimated an additional 120,000 prescription drug claims will be submitted to the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) yearly as a result of the new mandate. The potential additional cost to the SHBP was projected to be $4.7 million in the first year, $5.4 million in the second year and $6.2 million in the third year, assuming a 15% annual increase in prescription drug costs.

The bill is  here