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Affordability IS Access Act would allow some birth control to be available over the counter – while requiring that insurance plans continue to cover with no out of pocket costs

WASHINGTON - Planned Parenthood Federation of America welcomed today’s introduction of legislation to help expand access to birth control by allowing FDA-approved birth control pills to be made available over the counter, without a copay. The effort, led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), builds on the transformational Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit that requires insurance coverage of the full range of birth control methods with no out-of-pocket costs to the woman. Thanks to the ACA’s benefit, more than 62 million women now have access to birth control without copays or other out-of-pocket expenses. The bill introduced today recognizes that in order to further increase women’s access to birth control pills, they must be easier to obtain while still being covered by insurance without additional costs.     

This bill stands in stark contrast to legislation introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) bill, that would actually impede birth control access while claiming to do otherwise. Though that bill would make birth control available over the counter, it would result in women paying out of pocket for birth control and imposing prohibitively high costs — up to $600 per year.

Statement of Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

At Planned Parenthood, we know that accessible birth control means affordable birth control.  That’s why we helped lead the charge to ensure that contraception would be covered without out-of-pocket costs under the Affordable Care Act, and it is why we are proud to support this effort that not only protects affordable access to birth control—but expands it. At a time when the Trump-Pence administration and their allies are trying to restrict access to health care like never before, we must fight to protect the health of women across the country. We applaud Sen. Murray, Rep. Pressley and our other health champions for their leadership and look forward to working with them to empower every person to make the decision that’s best for them — without having to worry about cost, access, or judgement

Background on Access is Affordability Act

The bill would expand access to birth control by ensuring the availability of over-the-counter birth control pills while also ensuring access to insurance coverage of birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. The legislation makes clear that the determination as to whether a drug should be available for use without a prescription is appropriately and solely made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and when a birth control product is made available over the counter, it should be covered by health insurance, without a prescription and without out-of-pocket costs, as already required by current law. Women already paying for health insurance that includes birth control should not have to pay again when obtaining the birth control pill over the counter.

Background on the benefits of access to affordable birth control:

Women of color have particularly benefited from increased access to birth control and other preventive care without a copay.

  • Notably, 4 in 10 Black women of reproductive age reported that they could not afford more than $10 a month for birth control if they had to pay out of pocket.

Women saved more than $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs on birth control pills per year since the ACA’s birth control benefit went into effect.  

  • Oral contraceptive prescriptions increased by more than 7% (from 91 million to 98 million) between 2012 and 2016, accounting for one of the fastest-growing classes of dispensed prescription drugs in that time period.

  • Without insurance, an IUD could cost more than $1,100 out of pocket, and birth control pills could cost up to $600 per year.

When women have access to affordable reproductive health care, they can plan their families, get the education they need, advance in their career, and plan their life goals, which helps their families thrive.

  • Over 80 percent of women state that birth control has a positive effect on women’s lives.

  • Access to birth control helps women stay in school and complete their education. When the birth control pill became more widely available, the school dropout rate among women with access to birth control was 35 percent lower than those without access.

  • A majority of women at publicly funded family planning providers said birth control has allowed them to complete their education (51 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent).


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.


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