Not including contraceptives in drug plan is discrimination against women, judge rules

U.S. case may open the doors for women seeking coverage for contraceptives

Excluding prescription contraceptives from the employee health plan discriminated against women, a U.S. federal judge has ruled.

The plan, offered by a family-owned drug store chain in Seattle, violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, paying for the basic health-care needs of male employees, but leaving female employees to pay for contraception.

The law is no longer blind to the fact that only women can get pregnant or use prescription contraception, said Judge Robert S. Lasnick. He called the lack of coverage for prescription contraceptives a “gaping hole” in the plan.

A spokesperson for the drug store, the Bartell Drug Company, said they had planned on changing the coverage long before the judgment was given.

The judgment was the result of a class-action lawsuit filed last July by a pharmacist at the drug store. A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood says the judgement sets a precedent that will pave the way for women to seek coverage for contraceptives from their employers.

According to The New York Times women’s rights groups in the U.S. put the issue of gender equality in drug coverage on their agendas when it was discovered that many cover Viagara but not women’s contraceptives.

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