Census data released Wednesday show that in 2014, the number of Americans without health insurance dropped by 8.8 million from the previous year. Officials say that’s thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
What’s more, the Guttmacher Institute reported Wednesday that the ACA has also made long-acting reversible contraceptives—particularly intrauterine devices (IUDs)—far more accessible for insured women. According to the report, about 58 percent of women incurred out-of-pocket costs for their IUDs in January 2012, compared to about 13 percent in March 2014.
The out-of-pocket cost for an IUD can be in the thousands of dollars, which puts the contraceptive—one of the most effective birth control methods—out of reach for poor and even middle-class women. Said Megan Kavanaugh, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute and one of the report’s authors,
As this study documents, the ACA is making these more expensive methods a realistic option for many women. More women can now choose a birth control method based on what works best for them as opposed to what they can afford.
The ACA began requiring insurance companies to fully cover the cost of contraceptives in the second half of 2012; after that, IUDs became available, virtually barrier-free, to most insured women. This is great news because, as Guttmacher reports, IUD use has been linked to lowered rates of abortion and teen pregnancy. Insured women who may still have to pay for an IUD are those who either have “grandfathered” plans, which are not subject to the requirements of the ACA, and those who receive insurance through a religious employer that objects to contraception, according to Guttmacher.
A study released earlier this summer found that the ACA is saving all contraceptive users money. As the Ms. Blog reported, between 2012 and 2013 “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.” And last year, the Guttmacher Institute reported that, thanks to the ACA, the percentage of birth control users paying zero dollars for contraceptives grew from 15 to 67 percent between fall 2012 and spring 2014.
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