Celebrating Affordable Care Act Anniversary: We ALL Benefit When Women Have Access to No Co-Pay Birth Control
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) celebrates the three-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, and is beginning to make a significant health and economic difference in the lives of women across the country who have access to birth control without co-pays for the first time. Approximately 47 million women nationally and more than 1.5 million women in Michigan stand to benefit from the ACA, including a key provision requiring health insurers to cover many women's preventive health care services, including birth control, with no co-pays.
"The Affordable Care Act is the single biggest advancement in women's health in a generation and is already making a significant health and economic difference in the lives of women in Michigan who have access to birth control without co-pays for the first time," said PPWNM Vice President of Medical Services Bridget White. "Thanks to this landmark benefit, many women are now able to choose from a full-range of FDA-approved contraceptives — allowing them to pick a method that works best for them."
The ACA's birth control benefit went into effect starting in August 2012 for women on new private insurance plans and makes birth control available without co-pays or deductibles. The birth control benefit is continuing to takes effect under existing plans as they are renewed. Women are urged to check with their insurance company to find out when this benefit kicks in for them, and what methods are covered.
"Planned Parenthood health centers have been serving patients with private insurance for decades, and the eight PPWNM health centers in west and northern Michigan will be here for newly insured women as well — just as we are for all women who want quality health care from a provider they can trust to care for them, no matter what," said White.
PPWNM accepts Blue Care Network, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Priority Health, and dozens of other insurance plans. PPWNM's eight health centers see roughly 14,000 patients per year — the vast majority receive birth control methods, information and related services. Access to no co-pay birth control has significant health and economic benefits for women and families, as women can spend up to $600 a year on their birth control method alone!
"Unfortunately, even three years later, some politicians and bosses opposed to birth control are still fighting to take away affordable birth control from many women. As we celebrate the anniversary of the ACA, PPWNM joins Planned Parenthood health centers across the country in reminding Americans and our elected representatives that we ALL benefit when women have access to affordable birth control," said White.
* Access to birth control is not just a health issue, it's an economic issue. A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. This isn't surprising considering co-pays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month — up to $600 per year. Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance.
* A 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that women use contraception to better achieve their life goals, with the majority of participants reporting that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives, allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent). Other reasons for using contraception, reported by a majority of respondents, include not being ready to have children (63 percent), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60 percent), and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60 percent).
* Birth control has contributed to the advancement of women in the workplace by allowing them to plan for their futures and invest in their careers. Research finds that availability of the pill is responsible for a third of women's wage increases relative to men. By the 1980s and '90s, the women who had early access to the pill were making eight percent more each year than those who did not.
* Further, contraception is directly linked to improved maternal and infant health. When women plan their pregnancies, they are more likely to access prenatal care, ultimately improving their own health and the health of their children.
* Public polling finds overwhelming support for women's access to birth control. Seven in ten Americans (70 percent) believe that health insurance companies should be required to cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services, according to an October 2012 poll by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
* Additionally, the Contraceptive CHOICE study led by the Washington University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology demonstrated that access to birth control counseling, drugs, and devices without cost-sharing — as promised in the ACA — leads to significantly lower rates of unintended pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) provides sexual health care and sexuality education services, and advocates for access to these services for everyone. PPWNM, an affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, operates health centers in eight Michigan cities -- Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, Ionia, Marquette, Muskegon, Petoskey, Traverse City, and Wyoming -- providing medical and education services to thousands of women, men, and teenagers each year. Log on, learn more: ppwnm.org.