By WeNews staff
Saturday, August 6, 2011
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Aug. 1 new guidelines requiring private health insurance plans to cover several women's preventive services, including birth control and voluntary sterilization, reported CNN. Beginning on August 2012, birth control will be considered a preventive health measure under the Affordable Care Act's list of services that must be covered by health insurers. Also included on the list of preventative services are free screenings for gestational diabetes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), breastfeeding support and counseling on sexually transmitted diseases. The full list is available on the Department of Health and Human Services Web site.
Women's rights advocates were quick to cheer. "Too many times, I have seen women who became pregnant when they didn't want to because their insurance failed them--by limiting them to contraceptives that weren't right for them or refusing to pay for any form of birth control," Nancy Stanwood of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health said in a press release.
"Here's the bottom line: Contraception is prevention. Preventive care is supposed to be covered by insurance companies without co-pays under health care reform. Contraception saves money. It saves lives. We are glad the administration knows this is true," said Kierra Johnson of Choice USA in an Aug. 1 statement.
Read our most recent article on the issue, "Birth-Control Roadblock Just Might Clear in 2014."
The Economics and Statistics Administration released a report Aug. 3 looking at the gender gap in career fields involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Titled "Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation," it found that women are underrepresented both in STEM jobs and STEM undergraduate degrees and have been consistently underrepresented over the last decade.
Women who do receive STEM degrees are less likely to work in STEM jobs than their male counterparts. It also found that while women working in STEM jobs earn less than their male counterparts, they experience a smaller gender wage gap compared to others in non-STEM occupations. Read the full report here.
However, the National Science Foundation says the amount of women engaging in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics has grown since the 1970s, reported Metro News New York July 31. Nearly 232,000 women were enrolled as graduate students in science and engineering in 2008, compared with fewer than 78,000 enrolled in 1977.
By Sharon Johnson
WeNews senior correspondent
By Wendy Murphy
WeNews contributing editor
By Rita Henley Jensen
WeNews editor in chief