Breaking News
July 19, 2018 - Cancer patients receiving anti-PD-1 therapies may experience delayed skin reactions
July 19, 2018 - Scientists study adverse effects of carbon, silicon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers
July 19, 2018 - Keck Hospital of USC receives Magnet recognition for excellence in nursing
July 19, 2018 - Scientists identify hidden signals in RNAs that control protein synthesis
July 19, 2018 - Quadrivalent HPV Vaccine Not Tied to Spontaneous Abortion
July 19, 2018 - FDA OKs first drug made to reduce excessive sweating
July 19, 2018 - New findings do no support caffeine as effective appetite suppressant or weight-loss aid
July 19, 2018 - Prolonged preoperative opioid use linked to adverse outcomes after total knee and hip arthroplasty
July 19, 2018 - Biophysicists use infrared sensor as new method for drug discovery
July 19, 2018 - Rat study shows negative effects of perinatal exposure to phthalates
July 19, 2018 - Children with disabilities endure long waits for life-changing medical equipment
July 19, 2018 - Ways to stay safe while camping and hiking
July 19, 2018 - People with HIV twice as likely to suffer from heart disease
July 19, 2018 - On-the-Job Stress Relief – Drugs.com MedNews
July 19, 2018 - Compounds found in green tea and wine may block formation of toxic metabolites
July 19, 2018 - Gene regulator associated with protein pileup in exfoliation glaucoma
July 19, 2018 - Trump administration summons immigrant infants
July 19, 2018 - FDA grants approval for first breast cancer drug through ‘Real-Time Oncology Review’
July 19, 2018 - Five tips for men seeking plastic surgery
July 19, 2018 - Researchers discover the reasons why some people get dizzy when hearing certain sounds
July 19, 2018 - Research project investigates snake venom treatment as antibiotic alternative for eye infections
July 19, 2018 - Melanoma could soon be detected using a blood test
July 19, 2018 - Exposure to bright light may have big impact on sleep-related behavior in children
July 19, 2018 - Deleting single gene in gut bacteria affects metabolism, reduces weight gain in mice
July 19, 2018 - New proteomics studies help gain more insights into Alzheimer’s, cancer and listeriosis
July 19, 2018 - Study finds major discrepancies in prescription drug labeling pregnancy information across four countries
July 19, 2018 - Cellectar’s CLR 131 Receives FDA Orphan Drug Designation for Treatment of Ewing’s Sarcoma
July 19, 2018 - Watching the immune system in action reveals what happens when things goes wrong
July 19, 2018 - Increasing blood sugar levels improves memory and performance in older adults
July 19, 2018 - Connection between self-regulation and obesity appears to be different for girls and boys
July 19, 2018 - Researchers develop new, less destructive method for whitening teeth
July 19, 2018 - Revving up innate control of viral infection requires a three-cell ignition
July 19, 2018 - Inaccurate direct-to-consumer raw genetic data can harm patients, new research suggests
July 19, 2018 - Weight loss surgery is effective under the right situations
July 19, 2018 - BioTek awarded patent for autofocus feature on microplate reader
July 19, 2018 - Low-carb diets reduce stiffness of arteries in women and promote weight loss in men
July 19, 2018 - New review examines cannabinoids’ potential for direct treatment of cancer
July 19, 2018 - Allergic responses may help protect the skin against cancer, research suggests
July 19, 2018 - Inappropriate Prescribing of Abx High in Urgent Care Centers
July 19, 2018 - Many at risk for HIV despite lifesaving pill
July 19, 2018 - Tips for doctors and parents on the harms of marijuana use for teens
July 18, 2018 - Researchers detect presence of IgE antibodies after kidney transplantation
July 18, 2018 - New technique allows researchers to create large scale, personalized bone grafts
July 18, 2018 - Smoking May Boost Atrial Fibrillation Risk
July 18, 2018 - Genome editing method targets AIDS virus
July 18, 2018 - These things matter: Medical complications are not inevitable, a physician writes
July 18, 2018 - Cognitive functions often wilt as water departs the body, shows study
July 18, 2018 - Origins of bread found 14,400 years ago in Jordan
July 18, 2018 - Low-dose ketamine found to be as effective as opioids for treating acute pain
July 18, 2018 - Novel bioengineering technique could help repair bone defects
July 18, 2018 - Researchers identify new potential target protein for colon cancer
July 18, 2018 - Air pollution contributes significantly to diabetes globally
July 18, 2018 - Cell membrane’s importance offers new strategy to fight infections
July 18, 2018 - Researchers identify key protein involved in irregular brain cell activity
July 18, 2018 - 3D modeling of drug resistance could lead to more effective cancer treatment
July 18, 2018 - Hunger hormones could be key to new treatments for drug, alcohol addiction
July 18, 2018 - Nitrate-cured meats may contribute to mania, study finds
July 18, 2018 - Why men may recover more quickly from influenza infections than women
July 18, 2018 - Study finds discharge against medical advice as predictor of readmissions in heart attack patients
July 18, 2018 - KemPharm Announces Top Line Results from KP415.E01 Efficacy and Safety Trial in Children With ADHD
July 18, 2018 - Self-control and obesity: Gender matters in children
July 18, 2018 - Bioengineers, diabetes researchers convene to discuss future concepts for precision medicine
July 18, 2018 - New findings support more conservative use of ED neuroimaging for non-index seizures
July 18, 2018 - Practicing yoga benefits pregnant women, study suggests
July 18, 2018 - New strategy may lead to more accurate breast cancer diagnoses
July 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Symtuza (D/C/F/TAF), the First and Only Complete Darunavir-Based Single-Tablet Regimen for the Treatment of HIV-1 Infection
July 18, 2018 - New guide helps hospitals pick right partner to handle hospitalist services
July 18, 2018 - Deep data dive helps predict cerebral palsy
July 18, 2018 - Stricter firearm legislation associated with reduced murder and suicide rates
July 18, 2018 - Physical and sexual abuse in childhood associated with endometriosis risk
July 18, 2018 - Omega 3 supplements do not reduce risk of heart disease, stroke or death
July 18, 2018 - GSA’s new publication provides support for safe use of OTC analgesics by older adults
July 18, 2018 - Researchers receive grant from U.S. Department of Education to study children with HFASD
July 18, 2018 - Early childhood adversity increases sensitivity of the body’s immune response to cocaine
July 18, 2018 - Parental incarceration affects health behaviors of children in adulthood
July 18, 2018 - Researchers find that yellow fever and Asian tiger mosquitoes can carry new virus
July 18, 2018 - Two Regimens Fail to Stop Declines in β-Cell Function
July 18, 2018 - Researchers apply computing power to track the spread of cancer
July 18, 2018 - Olfactory receptors play pathophysiological role in all organs than merely smell perception
July 18, 2018 - Fish consumption associated with lower risk of early death
Maryland offers many insured men free vasectomy coverage

Maryland offers many insured men free vasectomy coverage

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

It was a well-intentioned effort to provide men with some of the same financial protection from birth control costs that women get. But a new Maryland law may jeopardize the ability of thousands of consumers — both men and women — to use health savings accounts.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, mandates that insurers cover vasectomies without requiring patients to pay anything out-of-pocket — just as they must do for more than a dozen birth control methods for women.

But the measure may run afoul of Internal Revenue Service rules that do not include vasectomies among approved preventive services for high-deductible health plans. People with health savings accounts — which are exempt from tax liabilities — tied to those plans could no longer contribute to the savings accounts in that case.

Under the Maryland Contraceptive Equity Act, insurers generally can’t charge patients a copayment or require any other cost sharing for prescription contraceptive drugs or devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The 2016 law is similar to what’s required under the federal Affordable Care Act, with a twist: It adds male sterilization — vasectomies — to the list of services that are free for patients.

“While the ACA made important strides … it completely left men out of the equation,” said Karen Nelson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, whose organization supported the bill.

Before the law took effect, a vasectomy at the organization’s Baltimore office would cost between $225 and $1,100, depending on someone’s ability to pay, said Nelson. Now the procedure will generally cost nothing for men in insured plans in Maryland.

The state law doesn’t apply to companies that are “self-funded,” meaning they pay their employees’ health care claims directly rather than buying state-regulated insurance policies.

Under IRS rules, consumers making tax-free contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) that are linked to high-deductible health plans have to pay for all their medical care until they reach their deductible of at least $1,350 for individuals and $2,700 for families in 2018. The only exception is for preventive services. The hitch for the Maryland law is that vasectomies aren’t on the IRS list of approved preventive services.

The IRS hasn’t responded to a request for clarification by Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. A bill was reintroduced this year — after it failed to pass last year — that would exempt these high-deductible plans from the state mandate to cover vasectomies before the deductible is met. Such a move would preserve the tax advantages of the HSAs linked to them.

Maryland is joining a few other states, including Illinois, Vermont and, starting next year, Oregon, that have expanded contraceptive coverage without cost sharing to include male sterilization.

Vermont’s law includes language to exempt high-deductible plans with health savings accounts. While the issue has raised concerns in Maryland, in Illinois and Oregon it hasn’t appeared to generate much attention to date, legislative analysts say.

Some advocates for extending no-cost coverage to vasectomies noted that the IRS’ list of approved preventive services specifically says that it isn’t exhaustive.

But until the issue is clarified, “the safest thing to do is not make a contribution to your HSA,” said Roy Ramthun, a Maryland resident and president of HSA Consulting Services. Ramthun helped implement health savings accounts while working for the Treasury Department during the George W. Bush administration. He stressed that the uncertainty applies only to HSA contributions made after the law became effective in 2018, not to earlier contributions. The issue doesn’t affect people’s medical coverage.

Beyond the uncertainty around health savings account contributions, Maryland’s law requiring coverage of vasectomies without cost sharing addresses a gap in men’s preventive coverage.

“There are arguments to be made that male condoms and vasectomies have preventive benefits for both women and men, in terms of [sexually transmitted infection] prevention and preventing pregnancy,” said Mara Gandal-Powers, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

Seven percent of men ages 18 to 45 have had a vasectomy, according to a 2013 study by researchers at Northwestern University. The prevalence increased to 16 percent among men ages 36 to 45. Men with higher incomes, higher education and a regular source of health care were more likely to have had the procedure, the study found.

The Maryland law doesn’t apply to the method of birth control that many men use: condoms. A bill introduced this month by state Sen. John Astle, a Democrat, would expand the law to include condom coverage.


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles