Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA) announced in an email sent to customers that they will change their policy to include contraceptive coverage without preauthorization starting Feb. 1.
The email, sent on Jan. 26, said coverage now includes oral contraceptives, contraceptive patches, vaginal rings, intrauterine devices and injectable contraceptives. It will not cover emergency contraception, and coverage of surgical sterilization will still require preauthorization.
DMBA was founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1970 and established as a third-party administrator to manage employee benefits, according to their website. It is the primary insurance provided to employees of the Church, BYU, BYU—Idaho and BYU— Hawaii.
DMBA’s previous lack of birth control coverage has sparked controversy in recent years. Some contraceptive methods can also be used to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis symptoms, lower risk of cancers and ectopic pregnancies and more, according to Planned Parenthood.
Before the change, DMBA said in their policy that preauthorization was required to cover birth control for customers. However, the conditions on which preauthorization was based were not listed anywhere.
Instagram page @dmba_stories is dedicated to anonymously sharing the experiences of women on DMBA’s insurance who could not receive birth control.
“I have PCOS and have used (birth control) pills to help manage the symptoms that come with that,” one anonymous woman said via @dmba_stories in a Facebook post from October 12, 2022. “Birth control for both medical and family planning needs has saved both my life and my ability to have a child.”
The Daily Universe discussed the change with the owner of @dmba_stories, who wishes to remain anonymous due to fear of losing his job.
“When I tried to go through appropriate channels, like, emailing and trying to talk to DMBA customer service representatives, their answers felt so weird,” he said. “They were very avoidant and dismissive.”
He said he initially started the instagram page to share stories and unite the voices of those who were affected by DMBA’s previous policy. Many women who shared their stories on the page remained anonymous for fear of retribution, @dmba_stories said.
“It was so cathartic and so validating,” he said of the change. “I just think of the women who, tomorrow, can call their doctors and get the care they need.”
Since the email was sent, social media users have taken to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to acknowledge the change.
Amy Griffin, BYU graduate and former reporter with The Daily Universe, said she is excited about the change and that it is good to see that somebody’s listening.
“There’s been professors working on it, students advocating for it,” Griffin said. “It’s something that’s been a long time coming.”
BYU graduate Rachel Fountain said she was in disbelief when she first heard the news of the change. “I was just absolutely elated,” she said.
Fountain said the cost of birth control wasn’t a huge deal to her, and it was more about the symbolism behind the policy.
“It felt like the Church was sending a message if you’re a woman that your only purpose in this life is to have children,” she said. Fountain said one of her hopes and dreams is to have children one day. However, the policy made her feel as if she had no other purpose than to be a mother.
“I wanted to get an education, I wanted to get a job. I wanted to be in a place of financial stability and comfort in my marriage before I felt ready to have kids.”
For Fountain, having children is one of the most sacred responsibilities one could have. “I want to make sure that I’m prepared,” she said. She also said that Jesus Christ often focused on women, and gave them thoughtful attention, and that it hurts her faith when she is not regarded as an equal.
Those who speak up about such things are seen as “anti-Church” Fountain said, but for her, that’s not true.
“We love the gospel, and we love Jesus Christ as our Savior,” she said. “When the policies don’t line up with what we know to be true … we speak up and speak out.”