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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Taking Cost Out of the Equation in Family Planning

Lydia Mitts

Former Associate Director of Affordability Initiatives

99 percent of sexually active women aged 15 to 44 have used some form of birth control in their lives. This probably isn't news to most women who have made personal family planning decisions and understand why having access to birth control is so important. Having access to birth control keeps women in the driver's seat when making important decisions about their future, like when to take a major step in their career, when to start a family, or when to have a second child.

While having access to birth control is so important, in the past, the cost of contraceptives has prevented women from being in charge of making these personal decisions. In past years, women with health insurance paid $215 a year for birth control. Uninsured women had to pay even more in order to obtain contraceptives—we are talking close to $1,200 a year. The high cost of birth control forced many women to forgo using their preferred method of contraception.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, cost will no longer be a barrier to women who are making family planning decisions that are best for themselves and their families. As of this past August, all new health plans have to cover birth control at no additional cost. This means that women no longer have to pay a co-pay or deductible to get birth control. While this new provision means peace of mind for millions of women who may have struggled to afford birth control in the past, the cost of providing this important benefit is quite small. A recent analysis found that covering birth control without any co-pays or deductibles costs insurance plans less than $1.20 per member each month! This small cost ensures that every woman has the freedom to plan her future, from deciding to go to school to deciding when it's the right to time to have another kid—I think we can all agree, that's a dollar well spent!