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.
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SOURCE San Francisco Health Plan