This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 30, 2014.
The nation is awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on whether the Affordable Care Act can require most employers to provide comprehensive insurance coverage for birth control, but the court of public opinion has already spoken, according to one poll. Nearly 7 out of 10 Americans favor mandating the coverage.
The findings are part of a report the University of Michigan published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week. A nationwide survey of more than 2,000 adults revealed that the people most in favor of required contraception coverage are the people most likely to benefit from it – women, Blacks, Hispanics, and parents with kids under age 18 living at home.
The Affordable Care Act requires many employers to provide health insurance that covers contraception, but last month the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments the law violates the first amendment by forcing some employers to provide birth control against their religious beliefs.
The court is expected to rule in June.
The Affordable Care Act also requires insurers to cover other health services, including mammograms, colonoscopies, mental health care, vaccines and screening for diabetes and high cholesterol. The University of Michigan survey shows these are even more popular with the public than contraception coverage.
Here are the numbers:
The percentage of U.S. adults in the University of Michigan survey who said they support mandated health insurance coverage of birth control.
The percentage of adults who favored coverage of mammograms and colonoscopies. Eighty-four percent approved of coverage for vaccinations, and more than three-quarters said they were in favor of mental health coverage and screening tests for diabetes and high cholesterol.
The percentage of survey respondents who supported mandating all benefits except contraceptives. Prominently supporting this position were men, individuals older than 60 and those without children under 18 living in the home.
The percentage of respondents who said insurance companies should be required to cover dental care. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must offer dental coverage for children, but it can be sold separately from health insurance, and parents aren’t required to buy it. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t require insurers to offer dental care for adults.