The rolling out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this year, despite website difficulties, has already been quite beneficial for women. A study just released by the Guttmacher Institute shows the law has greatly improved millions of women’s access to affordable contraception.
A year after the ACA started requiring private insurance companies to cover contraception and related counseling without any out-of-pocket costs, the percentage of privately insured women receiving free birth control pills has nearly tripled—from 15 to 40 percent. The percentage of privately insured women who don’t have to pay for contraceptive vaginal rings (better known by brand name NuvaRing) has also tripled.
However, birth control advocates can’t rest yet. About 19 million uninsured women in the U.S. still have to pay for birth control, as do many women on Medicaid whose states choose not to drop contraceptive copays (even though the federal government gives them an incentive to do so). Also, if moralistic businesses such as Hobby Lobby get their way in the Supreme Court, certain companies may get to claim exemptions to providing contraceptive coverage in the insurance plans they provide. Let’s hope the justices don’t overwrite the progress we’ve made this year.
Emily Zak is finishing her B.A. in journalism from the University of Montana as an editorial intern for Ms.