Unexpected Obamacare Savings for Women Could Lead to Fewer Abortions

At the Very Least, the Savings Could Mean a Few Less Bristol Palins


The numbers are in for the Obamacare provision that ended women’s out-of-pocket expense for family planning, and they are huge, according to the policy journal Health Affairs, and quoted by Kaiser Health.

Women are saving a lot of money as a result of a health law requirement that insurance cover most forms of prescription contraceptives with no additional out-of-pocket costs…But the amount of those savings and the speed with which those savings occurred surprised researchers.

The study looked at out-of-pocket spending from nearly 800,000 women (sic) between the ages of 13 and 45 from January 2008 through June 2013. For most plans, the requirement began Aug. 1, 2012, or Jan. 1, 2013.

While the average approximately $250 per year saved by each woman under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) might not sound like big bucks, what it means for society is profound.

[Study lead author Nora] Becker said that while making birth control substantially cheaper may not increase the number of women who use it, the new requirements could well shift the type of birth control they use to longer-acting, more effective methods like the IUD. “If prior to the ACA a woman was facing $10 to $30 a month for the pill but hundreds of dollars upfront for an IUD and now both are free, we might see a different choice,” she said.

Let me spell it out. More women will now choose birth control methods that are infinitely more effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy, like the pill and IUDs, instead of more temporary and less effective solutions like condoms. And fewer unwanted pregnancies mean fewer abortions. Winning!

Bristol Palin didn’t cite cost as the reason she only took birth control pills intermittently. More likely, it was her far-right Christian view that abstinence is the only acceptable form of birth control for unmarried people, and the ensuing denial of other, more predictable, behavior.

But cost is a factor for many young women, and the monthly payout is enough to push some into concluding they can skip that prescription refill because they’re going to be “good” and won’t need it anyway. Eliminating the financial calculus might help them avoid ending up like Palin, with unwanted pregnancies.

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