Obamacare Is Saving Women Big Bucks on Contraception

A new study published in the July issue of Health Affairs has found that the Affordable Care Act provision requiring insurance coverage of contraceptives is saving women a significant amount of money.

For the oral contraceptive pill, average out-of-pocket costs fell from $33.58 from June 2012 to $19.84 in June 2013, according to the report. For an intrauterine device insertion, the out-of-pocket cost dropped from $293.28 to $145.24. Overall, the average birth control pill user saved $254.91 per year and the mean savings on an IUD insertion were around $248.30 per woman. Additionally, the researchers found a vast decrease in out-of-pocket spending for emergency contraception, diaphragms and cervical caps, the hormonal implant, and the hormonal injection.

According to the authors, their findings show that the ACA mandate has saved women more than has been previously reported, which is significant for women who spend a large portion of their personal healthcare budgets on birth control. Evidence suggests that lowered costs may lead more women to access contraception, which would positively impact women’s personal lives.

Already, the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)—such as IUDs—is on the rise, despite their higher upfront costs. Study author Nora Becker told the Ms. Blog, “It’s possible that the ACA will accelerate that trend because prior research has shown that some women may have been deterred from getting an IUD by the high up-front cost.” Considering LARCs are the most effective form of contraception available, women would benefit if the devices were more easily accessible.

Although the study’s authors write that “it is still to early to predict the final impact of the mandate on health care use and spending, or the mandate’s impact on other health and socioeconomic outcomes for women,” this study will hopefully illuminate the great benefits of the contraceptive provision.

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Emma Niles is a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz and an editorial intern at Ms. Follow Emma on Twitter @emmalorinda.