Now free at all in-network pharmacies. Always free at all in-network gay bars.
Now free at all in-network pharmacies. Always free at all in-network gay bars. Chris Jackson / GETTY IMAGES

After six years of infuriating Republican obstructionism in Olympia, the Reproductive Parity Act passed last session. A lot of the talk around the bill focused on the part that requires all insurers who cover maternity care to also cover abortion. And rightfully so. That provision expanded abortion access to greater number of Washingtonians, giving a greater number of women control over their own goddamned reproductive health choices. But the bill also included some preventative care measures that didn't get as much press.

Namely: As of January 1, 2019, all Washingtonians with state-regulated insurance can now pick up over-the-counter contraceptives for free at their in-network pharmacies, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Those contraceptives include "condoms, spermicides, emergency contraceptives, and sponges."

So—if you're not on Medicaid, and if you don't work for a mega-company that self-insures—then you can just stroll into a Walgreens (or a Rite Aid, or whatever pharmacy is in your network), walk up to the pharmacy counter, and ask for some Plan B, some condoms, or whatever a "sponge" is, and they'll give it to you for freeeeeee at point of service.

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You can also get sterilized or get a vasectomy for free. No copays and no deductibles. You can just walk into your doctor's office and get snipped!

In an e-mail, a representative for the OIC told me that some insurers were trying to work out how to do reimbursements if you have purchased the contraceptives noted above or have gotten snipped since Jan. 1 of this year. You can find out more information about that in your benefits book, which will also give you any other instructions you need about picking up the contraceptives.

If you have any troubles accessing any of this stuff, the Insurance Commissioner of Washington wants to know. You can file a complaint online or call 1-800-562-6900 if anybody gives you the business.

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