Health care law’s results breed hope among doctors for birth control access

March 3, 2014 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, United States, News

Health care law’s results breed hope among doctors for birth control access

Sex education hasn’t ended them. Neither have public service campaigns or family planning services.

But unplanned pregnancies should begin to decline more rapidly during the next several years because the federal health care law allows cheaper, easier access to birth control, women’s health scholars say. About half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, an overall figure that’s nearly unchanged in two decades.

“I think it will make a dent. How much is to be determined,” said Dr. Sonya Borrero, an assistant professor of medicine in women’s health at the University of Pittsburgh. “I think all of us are really hopeful this will alleviate some of the barriers to contraceptive use.”

Borrero and other health advocates note promising early indicators. The number of privately insured women who pay no out-of-pocket fees for contraception ballooned last year under the Affordable Care Act, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute in Washington.

By spring, 40 percent of privately insured women on birth control pills paid nothing, up from 15 percent in fall 2012. Among women who use a contraceptive ring, the number climbed from 23 percent to 52 percent, Guttmacher reported.

The pattern should make it easier for women to choose and stick with birth control methods that are most effective for them, crushing “cost barriers” that can keep more useful and lasting contraceptives out of reach, said Adam Sonfield, a Guttmacher analyst.


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