Illinois Ballot Question on Health Insurance Birth Control Benefits

On November 4th 2014, Illinois voters will have chance to cast their vote on a non-binding advisory question about the inclusion of birth control benefits  in any health insurance plan providing prescription drug coverage.  

The measure is one of three Illinois ballot questions on policy matters. The other two address increasing the state minimum wage and imposing additional income taxes on millionaires.

Legislators say, according to The Chicago Sun-Times, that the ballot questions are aimed at taking the public’s temperature on issues that might come up in Springfield in 2015 or later.

But the ballot measures are also reportedly part of a campaign to increase Democratic voter turnout for the November election.  The Northwest Herald editorial board noted the results on the three questions “are meaningless.” The Quad-City Times editorial board urged voters to say “no,” arguing that the questions are intended to stimulate voter turnout and are not solutions to state problems.

In fact, Illinois has had a law since 2003 to require birth control prescription benefits in any health insurance plan offering other prescription benefits before the Affordable Care Act mandate. A February 2012, CSG Capitol Research Brief, details the laws in Illinois and 25 other states that required insurers cover FDA-approved contraceptive methods before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

The ballot initiative has the support of Illinois Planned Parenthood and the Illinois National Organization for Women. By October 16, 2014, supporters raised $529,348, according to Ballotpedia.