If you’ve ever found yourself trying to navigate the insane insurance system on your quest for birth control, you know firsthand how expensive the process can be. Birth control isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Every woman has different needs! Prior to the Affordable Care Act’s Contraceptive Mandate, some effective contraceptive methods were prohibitively expensive for a lot of women. In my case, I wasn’t able to choose the method of birth control that worked best for me until the mandate was enacted. My out-of-pocket cost on a Paraguard IUD was close to a thousand dollars! But eliminating that upfront cost made it possible. I’m sure plenty of women all over the country found themselves in similar circumstances.
A new study says that cost plays a major role in which methods of birth control women choose. When cost is eliminated, women tend to choose the most effective contraceptive methods. Those methods also happen to be the most expensive.
The study, conducted at the University of Utah Health, found that women chose methods like IUDs and subdermal implants when cost was not a factor. As part of the study, David Turok, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and colleagues at U of U Health developed the HER Salt Lake Contraceptive Initiative (HER Salt Lake). The goal was to evaluate women’s contraceptive choices if cost was not a factor in their decision.
The study also made all forms of contraceptives available to the women in the study. The women were allowed to change their minds at any time after choosing a method, at no cost to them.
The study was broken up into three six-month segments. There was a control segment, Intervention 1, and Intervention 2. The control group evaluated birth control choices of women who received standard birth control counseling at Planned Parenthood clinics in Salt Lake County. The women in Intervention 1 were offered same-day, no-cost access to the reversible contraceptive method of their choice. Women in Intervention 2 received the same care, plus access to education about birth control through online campaigns.
The data showed that women in I1 were 1.6 times more likely to use an IUD compared to the control group. The women in I2 were 2.5 times more likely to use an IUD.
In Utah alone, 200,000 women were in need of publicly supported family planning services, as of 2014. HER Salt Lake was able to provide over 7,000 women with no-cost birth control. Access to affordable, effective contraceptive methods is a vital part of women’s health. When cost isn’t a factor, women are able to make the best choices FOR THEM.