San Francisco Health Plan First Health Plan in California to Cover Pharmacist Counseling Cost for Emergency Contraception
Member Benefit Provides Important Family Planning Option to Women
SAN FRANCISCO, July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- San Francisco Health Plan (SFHP) today announced that it has become the first community health plan in California to cover the cost of Pharmacist counseling for Emergency Contraception (EC). By covering this cost, SFHP will provide easier access to, and quality information about Emergency Contraception to female Members -- 58 percent of its total membership population. The new benefit will be available on August 1, and will be implemented at all pharmacies in the SFHP network that have trained and certified Pharmacists. SFHP's benefit is in response to a California law passed by Governor Gray Davis in January 2002, that allows women to get EC directly from specially-trained pharmacists without first needing to go to a doctor or clinic. The Emergency Contraception counseling program is designed to further increase dialogue between Members and Pharmacists, and is offered through SFHP's "Positive Outcomes" program, a 2-year old effort to compensate Pharmacists for the additional time they spend on SFHP Member education for conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart failure. "The most important thing we can do for our Members is provide the benefits and the counseling needed to get the health tools they deserve to make the most responsible choices for their bodies," said Dr. Karen Smith, Medical Director of SFHP. "For a lower-income family who may struggle to make ends meet, an unintended pregnancy can adversely change their lives. Having complete access to Emergency Contraception is a simple, obvious solution." Women who go to a pharmacy to obtain Emergency Contraception are usually charged a $20 counseling fee in addition to the cost of the drug. Families covered by San Francisco Health Plan's Medi-Cal or Healthy Families programs come from working or lower-income families, and often do not have an extra $20 to pay out-of-pocket for counseling. "We are happy to see organizations like San Francisco Health Plan go out of their way to increase their Members' access to family planning tools like Emergency Contraception," said Dian Harrison, CEO of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. "We know that removing the burden of the additional counseling fee enables lower-income women to more easily obtain EC and take an important step toward reducing unintended pregnancies." Even with the many birth control options available today, no method is 100 percent effective. There are about 3 million unintended pregnancies each year in the US, and more than half of these happen to women who are using a regular method of contraception. Experts say that wider access to Emergency Contraception could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the US each year by 700,000. About San Francisco Health Plan San Francisco Health Plan (SFHP) is a licensed community health plan providing affordable health coverage to low and moderate-income families residing in San Francisco. SFHP was designed for and by the residents it serves -- many of whom would not be able to otherwise obtain health care for themselves or their families. Through SFHP, members have access to a full spectrum of medical services, including preventive care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, family planning, and substance abuse programs. SFHP's mission is to provide superior, affordable health care that emphasizes prevention and promotes healthy living, with the goal of improving the quality of life for the people of San Francisco. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X96974416
SOURCE San Francisco Health Plan
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